Brazil judge orders Vale to pay for all damages from dam collapse
Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –
A Brazilian state judge on Tuesday ordered mining giant Vale to pay for all the damage caused by a tailings dam collapse that killed hundreds of people in one of the country's worst industrial accidents.
Judge Elton Pupo Nogueira in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, where the January 25 disaster happened, did not quantify the amount of money, but said 11 billion reais ($2.89 billion) of assets belonging to Vale would remain frozen.
"It was not possible to quantify only by technical and scientific criteria," the court said in a statement on its website, describing the ruling as the "first conviction" against Vale over the rupture.
The definition of value "is not limited to the deaths resulting from the event, as it also affects the local and regional environment, as well as the economic activities carried out in the affected areas."
The statement noted that Vale "did not deny responsibility for the disaster."
In response to the ruling, Vale reiterated its commitment to "repairing and helping all those affected by the dam rupture in Brumadinho."
Vale has been struggling to deal with the aftermath of the dam breach that spewed millions of tons of mining waste across the countryside and forced the suspension of some of its operations.
The official death toll from the disaster is 248, with another 22 still listed as missing.
The disaster was the second involving Vale in three years in the mineral-rich region.
Brazil has since banned the construction of new upstream dams, which are cheaper but less stable than other types of tailings dams, and ordered the decommissioning of existing ones.
A Brazilian Senate committee published a report earlier this month recommending certain Vale employees and executives be charged over the disaster.
Vale said at the time it "respectfully disagrees" and that it was "essential that there be an expert, technical and scientific conclusion on the causes of the B1 Dam breach before any responsibilities can be identified."
? 2019 AFP