Archive | Mining Environmental Accidents, Pollution and Abandoned Mines

Trust in tailings? Vale dam disaster spurs investors into action – by Barbara Lewis, Simon Jessop and Clara Denina (Reuters U.S. – February 15, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON (Reuters) – Seeking assurances from Brazilian miner Vale by phone after a second deadly dam disaster in three years is not enough for Sasja Beslik. He plans to fly there himself to get answers.

Beslik, head of sustainable finance at Swedish bank Nordea, blocked the bank’s investment managers from buying any more Vale shares on Jan. 26, the day after a damn filled with mining waste burst its banks, killing hundreds.

He is the latest investor to step back from an industry that is trying to clean up its act. Vale needs to address the risks associated with tailings dams and deal with its waste material safely if it is to prevent an exodus of global funds and stem the recent share price slide. Continue Reading →

COLUMN-Brazilian mine tragedy will not be the last tailings dam disaster – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – February 14, 2019)

https://www.reuters.com/

LONDON, Feb 14 (Reuters) – The collapse of Vale’s Brumadinho iron ore tailings dam in Brazil was both shocking and devastating in its impact. But it was not a one-off event.

It was the 11th serious tailings dam failure in the last decade and such catastrophic events are becoming more frequent, according to researchers at World Mine Tailings Failures (WMTF). Indeed, the number of incidents is going to rise further, according to the U.S. not-for-profit organisation that tracks all recorded tailings storage facility (TSF) failures.

“Without major changes to law and regulation, and to industry practices, and without new technology that substantially reduces risk and increases loss control, our current prediction is for 19 very serious failures between 2018 and 2027.” Continue Reading →

Vale CFO says miner’s top managers were unaware of dam risk report – by Marta Nogueira (Reuters Canada – February 12, 2019)

https://ca.reuters.com/

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Senior management at Brazilian miner Vale were never shown internal security documents indicating that its dam at Brumadinho was at risk of collapse, the company’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday.

The CFO, Luciano Siani, was asked about management’s knowledge of the internal documents at a news conference a day after Reuters reported on them. The documents, dated Oct. 3, 2018, classified the dam at Brumadinho as being two times more likely to fail than the maximum level of risk tolerated under internal guidelines.

The dam collapsed in late January in one of the deadliest mining disasters in decades. Asked whether the company’s senior management had seen the internal report, Siani said, “No.” Continue Reading →

Opinion: Welcome to the accidental iron ore boom – by Elizabeth Knight (Sydney Morning Herald – February 13, 2019)

https://www.smh.com.au/

Even a month ago it would have seemed fanciful for anyone to suggest iron ore prices would be heading towards $US100 per tonne ($A141.33). But the market dynamics have changed.

Welcome to the accidental mining boom. There is a lot at stake in this latest boom for the profits of BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue not to mention the potential swell to the federal government’s coffers.

Just how meaningful the uplift will be for all involved depends on how long the current boomtime prices are sustained. With futures now hitting more than $US96 commodities experts are scrambling to assess how this will play out. Continue Reading →

Anglo’s Cutifani expresses confidence in iron ore tailings technology at Minas Rio – by David McKay (MiningMX – February 12, 2019)

MiningMX

THE Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil on January 25 could have some far-reaching consequences, but Anglo American CEO, Mark Cutifani, said that the impact on the group’s own activities in the country would be limited.

Brumadinho is the place where Brazil’s state-owned mining company, Vale, operates its Feijao iron ore mine which, in turn, is part of the Paraopeba complex. The complex produced 26.2 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore in Vale’s 2017 financial year, representing 7% of its total output.

It’s the second major tailings dam burst disaster in just over two years in Brazil. In the previous event, a tailings facility burst at Samarco – an operation owned by Vale in joint venture with BHP. Some 19 lives were lost. Continue Reading →

The Global Iron Ore Crisis: What’s Next in Four Charts – by Krystal Chia and Martin Ritchie (Bloomberg/Yahoo – February 12, 2019)

https://finance.yahoo.com/

(Bloomberg) — The global iron ore market is reeling from the sustained and expanding impact of Vale SA’s deadly dam breach last month, which has roiled prices and spurred concerns about a shortage.

Since the initial incident in Brazil in late January, the top producer has announced supply cuts of as much as 70 million tons, although it’s said it will try to offset some lost production.

As the drama unfolds, investors, users and producers are grappling with a host of unknowns, starting with how much supply Vale will actually lose this year and next as executives seek to respond to what’s likely the greatest challenge the company has faced. There are other critical variables too, which will help to influence the direction of prices, which sank on Tuesday for a second day. Continue Reading →

Exclusive: Brazil miner Vale knew deadly dam had heightened risk of collapse – by Stephen Eisenhammer (Reuters U.K. – February 11, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – Vale SA, the world’s largest iron ore miner, knew last year that the dam in Brazil that collapsed in January and killed at least 165 people had a heightened risk of rupturing, according to an internal document seen by Reuters on Monday.

The report, dated Oct. 3, 2018, classified the dam at Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais as being two times more likely to fail than the maximum level of risk tolerated under internal guidelines.

The previously unreported document is the first evidence that Vale itself was concerned about the safety of the dam. It raises questions as to why an independent audit around the same time guaranteed the dam’s stability and why the miner did not take precautions, such as moving a company canteen that was just downhill from the structure. Continue Reading →

Half of the world’s biggest miners do not keep track of their tailings risk management measures -report – by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud (Mining.com – February 10, 2019)

http://www.mining.com/

Following last month’s tailings dam disaster at Vale’s (NYSE: VALE) Córrego do Feijão mining complex, which left at least 140 dead, Amsterdam-based Responsible Mining Foundation issued a statement highlighting the findings of its 2018 Responsible Mining Index report related to miners’ tailing dams.

According to the report, many of the world’s largest mining companies are not able to ‘know and show’ how effectively they are addressing the risks of tailings dam failure and seepage.

“The 30 mining companies assessed in RMI 2018 scored an average of only 22% on tracking, reviewing and acting to improve their tailings risk management, with Vale scoring slightly above average. Fifteen of the 30 companies showed no evidence of keeping track of how effectively they are addressing these risks. Continue Reading →

Deadly dam burst prompts investors to review mining stocks – by Jennifer Thompson and Chris Flood (Financial Times – February 10, 2019)

https://www.ft.com/

The collapse of a dam at an iron-ore mine in Brazil just over two weeks ago has prompted investors to review holdings in the business’s owner and triggered questions over how to manage risks and improve practices.

The burst at the Córrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinhoon January 25 is one of South America’s worst disasters: at least 150 people died and nearly 200 are still missing.

The dam was operated by Vale, the world’s largest iron-ore producer, and it held back tailings — streams of waste from mines. There are several thousand similar dams worldwide. Continue Reading →

A toxic crisis in America’s coal country – by Gareth Evans (BBC News – February 11, 2019)

https://www.bbc.com/

Wyoming County, West Virginia – In the shadow of some of America’s most controversial coal mines, where companies use huge amounts of explosives to blow the tops off mountains, isolated communities say their water has been poisoned.

Now, they must decide if they will fight back against an industry they have relied upon for generations. Casey (not her real name) wears a one-dollar wedding ring now. She bought the blue plastic band after her original ring was ruined by the toxic water that has been pumping into her home for more than a decade.

“I just needed something there,” she says, as she holds the replacement ring up to the light. “I felt empty without it.” She places her original wedding band, now discoloured and corroded, in her palm. Her skin, especially on her hands, has become coarse and sore. Continue Reading →

Peru’s environmental watchdog reports tailings spill from Southern Copper mine – by Marco Aquino (Reuters U.K. – February 11, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Peru’s environmental watchdog said on Sunday it was investigating a tailings spill from a unit of Southern Copper Corp, one of the world’s largest copper producers, into a river in an area that has been inundated by heavy rains.

The Agency of Evaluation and Environmental Enforcement (OEFA) said the spill occurred in the waste deposit area of the Cuajone mining operations of Southern Copper, located in the Moquegua region approximately 535 miles (860 km) southeast of Lima.

OEFA investigators at the Cuajone mine said a “flow of a greenish solution” into the Torata River since Friday has stopped. Continue Reading →

A Tidal Wave of Mud – by Shasta Darlington, James Glanz, Manuela Andreoni, Matthew Bloch, Sergio Peçanha, Anjali Singhvi and Troy Griggs (New York Times – February 9, 2019)

https://www.nytimes.com/

A mining dam collapsed and buried more than 150 people. Now Brazil is casting an anxious eye on dozens of dams like it.

BRUMADINHO, BRAZIL — Luiz de Castro was installing lamps at a mining complex in Brazil late last month when a loud blast split the air. He figured it was just a truck tire popping, but a friend knew better. “No, it’s not that!” the friend said. “Run!”

Dashing up a staircase, caked in mud and pelted by flying rocks, Mr. Castro clambered to safety. But as he watched, a wall of mud unleashed by the collapse of a mining dam swallowed his co-workers, he said. Tiago, George, Icaro — they and at least 154 others, all buried alive.

The deluge of toxic mud stretched for five miles, crushing homes, offices and people — a tragedy, but hardly a surprise, experts say. There are 88 mining dams in Brazil built like the one that failed — enormous reservoirs of mining waste held back by little more than walls of sand and silt. And all but four of the dams have been rated by the government as equally vulnerable, or worse. Continue Reading →

‘Time bomb’ warning on mining dam disasters – by David Shukman (BBC News – February 7, 2019)

https://www.bbc.com/

The catastrophic collapse of a dam at a mine in Brazil has exposed a darker side of an industry that the world depends on. At nearly 800 sites across the country and thousands more around the world, dams contain huge loads of mining waste.

One British scientist, Dr Stephen Edwards of UCL, has warned that “we are sitting on a time bomb”. He told BBC News that further disasters were inevitable.

Over the last few days in the heart of Brazil’s mining belt, I’ve been investigating two very different sites where the risks of massive damage seem plausible. One is a vast lake of sludge perched high above a nervous community; the other is an abandoned gold mine at risk of leaking poisons.

Why are there dumps of mining waste? Continue Reading →

[Michigan Mining] Can Brazilian tailings dam disaster happen here? – by Al Gedicks (La Crosse Tribune – February 8, 2019)

https://lacrossetribune.com/

The recent collapse of a mine tailings dam in southeastern Brazil has already resulted in 134 fatalities, leaving an estimated 300 people still missing, according to rescue workers.

The spill flooded nearby homes, submerging cars and buses under a river of reddish-brown sludge. This environmental disaster should raise red flags for Michigan regulators and the communities downstream from Aquila Resources’ proposed open-pit metallic sulfide mine and tailings dam next to the Menominee River on the Wisconsin-Michigan border.

On Jan. 25, a 40-year-old, 280-foot high tailings dam failed in Brumadinho, Brazil, releasing almost 12 million cubic meters of mine waste. Continue Reading →

Brazil evacuates towns near Vale, ArcelorMittal dams on fears of collapse – by Marta Nogueira and Pedro Fonseca (Reuters U.K. – February 8, 2019)

https://uk.reuters.com/

BELO HORIZONTE/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Some 700 people were evacuated early on Friday from Brazilian towns near two separate tailings dams operated by Vale SA and ArcelorMittal on mounting fears of a recurrence of last month’s deadly dam burst nearby.

The collapse two weeks ago unleashed an avalanche of mud that engulfed nearby buildings and farms, killing an estimated 300 people in Brazil’s deadliest mining disaster.

As evidence mounted that Vale missed warnings of trouble at the dam in the town of Brumadinho, pressure has risen on the firm and other mining companies to bolster safety measures to avoid a recurrence. Continue Reading →