Brazil: Vallourec's dike overflows, the mining company is fined for environmental damage and has its activities suspended
On January 8, 2021, a water dike inside the Pau Branco Mine (in Nova Lima, Minas Gerais), belonging to the French company Vallourec, overflowed and blocked the BR-040 highway in both directions at kilometre 562.
Among the impacts of the flooding, the following stand out: landscape degradation, habitat fragmentation and pollution of water bodies, and the potential death of fish and suppression and degradation of aquatic and riparian habitats. Damages were also verified in two conservation units: in the Southern State Environmental Protection Area of the Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Region and in the Serra da Calçada Municipal Natural Monument, in Nova Lima.
The Public Ministry of Minas Gerais (MPMG) and the Attorney General's Office of the State of Minas Gerais (AGE) requested the blocking of R$ 1 billion and the application of a daily fine against the mining company.
The Minas Gerais state government fined the company R$288.6 million for the environmental damage caused. The company has 20 days to pay the fine or present a defense to the state environmental agencies. The activities at Pau Branco Mine were also suspended.
The BHRRC invited Vallourec to comment on what happened and the company sent us a link to the statements published on its website.