TORONTO (Reuters) – Brazil’s mining minister on Tuesday defended iron ore miner Vale SA as vital to the country’s economy, even after prosecutors accused the company of pressuring auditors to suppress evidence that its Brumadinho dam was unstable, months before the dam collapsed in January, killing hundreds.
Minister of Mines and Energy Bento Albuquerque said Vale executives are likely to learn from the disaster, which killed more than 300 and sparked an outcry for tighter mining regulations.
The January disaster was the second deadly burst in less than four years in Brazil at a Vale-controlled tailings dam, a type of dam that stores the muddy detritus of the mining process.
Albuquerque told Reuters the world’s largest iron ore miner plays an important role in Brazil’s economic development. The country’s National Mining Agency, the industry’s main regulator, is linked to the ministry.
“The company is very important for Brazil, for the economy of many states in Brazil, and we consider them to have an important role in our development,” Albuquerque said on the sidelines of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada mining conference in Toronto.