MAC: Mines and Communities

Major dam disaster strikes Brazilian communities

Published by MAC on 2007-01-12

Major dam disaster strikes Brazilian communities

12th January 2007

Less than a fortnight into the New Year, a major tailings dam disaster has hit Brazil. Considering that such "accidents" have averaged one a year over the past twenty years, this doesn't augur well for the mining industry's reputation (not to mention the health of communities and the environment) during 2007.

This is one of the few recorded significant collapses of a containment facility at a bauxite mine -although Brazzil Magazine claims that the same company (Rio Pomba Cataguases) was guility of two similar derelictions in 2003 and 2006..

A company spokesperson has denied that toxic materials were released during the dam collapse or that many nearby residents were affected. However, other reports claim that at least 3,000 people have been forced to move from their homes, while water supplies (possibly containing aluminium) for nearby towns had been adversely affected.

The Minas Gerais Environment Secretary has announced that Rio Pomba Cataguases will be fined US$25 million and that the company will not be allowed to reconstruct the dam.

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