Deadly Mining Disaster Still Tests Vale Three Years Later – by Alistair MacDonald and Samantha Pearson (Wall Street Journal – January 29, 2022)

Mining company ponders its metals future as costs from Brumadinho continue to rise—along with tensions with locals, regulators and investors

NOVA LIMA, Brazil—Three years after Vale SA’s Brumadinho disaster, the fallout from the dam collapse that killed 270 people still looms large over the mining giant.

Costs related to the incident have continued to rack up, Brazilian authorities have been slow to permit further mining amid safety concerns, simmering tensions between the miner and locals have resulted in a shower of lawsuits and some investors say it is too soon to reinvest in the company.

Vale’s struggle to escape the shadow of its past comes as the world’s largest iron-ore producer seeks to define its future. The company is set to decide before an investor meeting in November whether to expand its battery-metals business, a diversification aimed at tapping demand for electric vehicles, or spin it off and double down on its core iron-ore business, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“Brumadinho will be forever in our minds to remember how things can go wrong,” Chief Executive Eduardo Bartolomeo told an investor meeting late last year. The disaster “has been the driving force in everything that we are undergoing inside Vale.”

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