Latest mining waste dam failure was preventable, foreseen

Handout picture released by the Minas Gerais Fire Department showing an aerial view taken after the collapse of a dam near the town of Brumadinho in south-eastern Brazil, on Friday. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

Expert recommendations & research ignored by global mining industry

Payal Sampat | Earthworks | January 26, 2019

Vale’s Brumadinho mining waste dam failure is all the more tragic because the mining industry knows how to prevent them, yet failed to act.

200 people are missing and some presumed dead because Vale and the rest of global mining industry haven’t adopted the Mount Polley Independent Expert Panel’s recommendations made in response to a similar catastrophic mining waste dam failure in 2014. These recommendations have been globally recognized, including by the United Nations Environment Programme’s 2017 assessment of tailings dams failures, and by the multi-sector Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance standard. Until these recommendations are adopted and independently verified, preventable mining disasters will continue to occur wherever the mining industry operates.

Independent research that analyzes mine waste dam failures since the turn of the 20th century reveals that these catastrophic failures are occurring more frequently. It also projects the trend will continue, driven by economic factors.

After the 2015 Samarco mining waste dam disaster, the International Council on Mining Metals published mining waste impoundment guidance that ignored the globally recognized recommendations by the Mount Polley Panel.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights

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