Brazil: Civic groups urge Vale to halt production amid Covid-19 spikePublished by MAC on 2021-03-30
Source: Reuters, Wall Street Journal (2021-03-30)
Is large scale mining of iron ore essential?
A rise in deaths among younger people prompts alarm over P.1 variant, present in more than 20 countries.
The Wall Street Journal
March 27, 2021
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil—Brazil is in the throes of a battle against the new Covid-19 variant from the Amazon that threatens to send shock waves across the globe.
Home to less than 3% of the world’s population, Brazil currently accounts for almost a third of the daily global deaths from Covid-19, driven by the new variant. More than 300,000 have died, and daily deaths now top 3,000, a toll suffered only by the far more populous U.S.
“We’re in the trenches here, fighting a war,” said Andréia Cruz, a 42-year-old emergency-ward nurse in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. In the past three weeks alone, the surrounding state of Rio Grande do Sul has seen nearly 5,000 people die from Covid-19, more than in the final three months of last year.
The spread of the virus in Brazil threatens to turn this country of 213 million into a global public-health hazard. The so-called P.1 strain, present in more than 20 countries and identified in New York last week, is up to 2.2 times more contagious and as much as 61% more able to reinfect people than previous versions of the coronavirus, according to a recent study.
The P.1 is now responsible for the majority of new infections in Brazil, with many doctors here saying they are seeing more young and otherwise healthy patients falling ill.
Brazil civic groups urge production halt at Vale mine amid COVID-19 concerns
March 25, 2021
Two civic organizations have asked iron ore miner Vale SA to cease mining operations at its major Serra Norte complex in northern Brazil, according to documents seen by Reuters this week, as a major COVID-19 spike tests the capacity of the region’s hospitals.
The requests came from the lawyers’ guild for the town of Parauapebas and the regional doctors’ association, according to the documents.
Parauapebas, a city of 210,000 people where the Serra Norte complex is located, entered a lockdown on Sunday, due to a significant increase in coronavirus cases. Mining, however, is considered an essential activity and Vale’s operations there continue.
“Really the situation here is one of collapse. We don’t have ICU beds available,” said Maura Regina Paulino, leader of the local lawyers’ guild. “Mining is the principal activity here and it is considered essential. So despite the lockdown declared by the mayor, the movement of mine workers is constant.”
Vale and the lawyers’ association for the state of Para, where Parauapebas is located, are set to meet on Friday, said Rubens Moraes Júnior, who sits on the board of the state association.
Vale told Reuters it has been reinforcing measures in place since the beginning of the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the areas where it operates.
It said preventative measures include the “drastic reduction” of personnel at its operational and administrative facilities, adding it has so far carried out some 1.2 million tests among direct and indirect employees.
The company did not directly address the requests from the local civic associations.