QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s government plans to tighten rules regulating the construction and operation of mining waste dams to avoid disasters like one in Brazil in January when a dam owned by Vale SA collapsed, killing hundreds.
Vice Minister of Mining Fernando Benalcazar told Reuters the new rules will take effect in December and will prohibit the building of so-called tailings dams close to populated areas and ban certain designs that are considered less stable.
Public trust in the mining industry has plunged since the disaster in Brazil, spurring calls to bolster safety at tailings dams, which are used to store the muddy detritus of the mining process and can be dozens of meters high.
“In October last year, we decided to move forward with new regulations. In January, with the Brazilian incident, the process sped up and we decided that we have to be prepared,” Benalcazar said in an interview.