BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – A Brazilian state prosecutor expects to bring criminal charges “in the next few days” against miner Vale (VALE3.SA) over a mining waste dam collapse that killed at least 259 people, even as the prosecutor’s federal counterpart continues to investigate the case.
Andressa de Oliveira Lanchotti, coordinator for the task force of state prosecutors investigating the disaster, told Reuters they expect to indict 15 to 20 people, including executives from Vale and employees from German inspection firm TÜV SÜD – as well as the companies themselves.
“What we can take away from the investigations is there were several factors pointing to risk – the risk was not unknown,” Lanchotti said, disputing Vale’s contention that it had no way of knowing that the dam that unleashed an avalanche of mining waste on the Brazilian town of Brumadinho in January 2019 posed a danger.
Federal police in September proposed criminal charges against Vale, TÜV SÜD and 13 of their employees, accusing the companies of working with falsified documents attesting to the stability of the dam.
Prosecutors believe TÜV SÜD had a vested interest in signing off on the dam’s safety so that it could get more work from Vale, which had fired another inspection firm which refused to certify the dam’s safety.