On January 25, a tailings dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine, meant to permanently contain mining waste, catastrophically failed. The Brumadinho dam failure killed at least 206 people, with a further 102 people still unaccounted for.
- Traditional ESG data can be important, but recent controversies highlight the fact that company-reported information on environmental and human rights risks related to tailings dams is insufficient
- The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board has explicitly called out the need for companies to report on the tailings dams they operate as their “failure can reasonably be expected to cause loss of life, serious damage to homes, industrial and commercial buildings, and damage to important utilities, highways, or railroads”
- The Brumhadino dam disaster has shed uncertainty over a recent settlement reached with Brazilian prosecutors over a prior failure at Samarco; prosecutors have stated they will assess Vale’s culpability in this latest tragedy before settling