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Latest news & stories | View response in: Português

Responding department: Community Relations

Stock exchange symbol: (VALE3:BZ)

English response below is a translation of Vale's original in Portuguese.

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

Vale has had a Human Rights Policy since 2009. The Policy was approved at the highest level of company management, the Board of Directors. In 2014, a new version of the policy was drafted and approved. The purpose of the review process was to ensure our alignment with the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and to reflect the company’s progress, given that since 2009, it has been seeking to improve its management processes of human rights aspects based on international standards. The policy is available in Portuguese at: [link], and in English at [link]. In addition to the Policy, the company also has a Human Rights Guide that sets out its position on this issue and provides guidelines to help employees and others understand and respect human rights. The Guide deals with issues such as respect for diversity, raising awareness on bullying and sexual harassment and relations with employees, customers, partners, suppliers, communities, government and society. It also deals with other issues of critical importance in the mining sector, such as child and forced labour and small-scale mining. The Guide is available in Portuguese at: [link], and in English at  [link]. The company is currently revising the Guide in order to reflect the Policy updates of 2014.  In addition to the Policy and the Human Rights Guide,  other relevant standard setting documents are:

  • Code of Ethics and  Conduct – Available in Portuguese at: [link], and in English at: [link].
  • Sustainable Development Policy - Available in Portuguese at: [link], and in English at: [link].
  • Code of Ethics and Conduct for Suppliers: available in Portuguese and English at: [link].
  • Social Action Policy. This document sets out the principles for social action and expenditures and provides guidance on the planning of long-term social investments. It is applicable to Brazil and used as a reference for operations in other countries.
  • Resettlement of Vulnerable Communities Policy. This document sets out general rules for the resettlement of socially and economically vulnerable families and/or individuals. It is applicable to Brazil and used as a reference for operations in other countries.

How are human rights governed in your company?

Our Human Rights Policy was approved at the highest level of company management, the Board of Directors. One of the five technical committees that advise the Board of Directors is the Governance and Sustainability Committee, which is responsible for dealing with human rights issues. In addition, in 2013, Vale created an Ombudsman Department, which reports directly to the Chair of the Board of Directors. Allegations of irregularities, including human rights violations can be brought to the company’s attention through the Ombudsman. The Executive Director for Human Resources, Health and Safety, Sustainability and Energy manages human rights issues. Vale has a unit dedicated exclusively to human rights within the Community Relations Department. The human rights team has the following remit:

  • Ensure general standards are set regarding business and human rights at Vale;
  • Keep the Human Rights Policy up to date, in accordance with progress in external discussions and internal practice;
  • Disseminate the Human Rights Policy internally and externally;
  • Develop and implement the monitoring process of human rights issues (due diligence) throughout the life cycle of its projects in the company’s different business sectors, in Brazil and in Vale’s priority countries;
  • Develop tools and methodologies to assess risk and impact and manage human rights issues;
  • Ensure that human rights risk and impact assessments are carried out;
  • Develop human rights training strategies for Vale’s employees overall and provide training;
  • Represent Vale at international business and human rights forums in order to share best international practice with our peers and keep ourselves up to date with progress being made on this issue;
  • Coordinate the company’s response to allegations of human rights violations and formulate action plans when necessary;
  • Support the development of management strategies for human rights issues;
  • Report on Vale’s performance with regard to the management of its impact on human rights;
  • Seek the continuous improvement of Vale’s social performance in the field of human rights.

In addition to the human rights team, other teams deal with human rights-related issues. They are: Human Resources, Indigenous Populations and Traditional Communities, Socioeconomic, Environment, Company Security, Capital Projects Management, Health and Safety etc. The human rights team tries to maintain a close working relationship with these teams and offers the necessary support. In 2012, Vale took a major step and created a governance model able to integrate projects and operations located in the same territory or area of influence, with a view to more efficient planning and management of social issues related to company undertakings. It is called the Issues and Stakeholders Management Model and is made operational by means of territorial-based and executive committees. It analyses the social and environmental initiatives to be taken in a particular region in order to help set priorities that better respond to the needs expressed by communities in those areas and deal with negative and positive impacts of company undertakings. The main tools and processes used to support the model are the Stakeholders’ Demands and Issues (SDI) tool, social dialogue, socioeconomic studies and the Social Relations and Investments Plans. The model is currently being implemented in Brazil and Mozambique.

How are human rights managed within your company?

The management of human rights issues at Vale is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Management performance in this area has improved year after year in line with the commitments set out in our Human Rights Policy.

Policy, Dissemination and Training. Vale’s position on human rights is set out in its Human Rights Policy, Human Rights Guide, Code of Ethics and Conduct and its Code of Ethics and Conduct for Suppliers. Vale’s  Human Rights Policy, Human Rights Guide and Code of Ethics and Conduct are disseminated internally through company internal communication channels and at specific events. As from 2009, the registration of suppliers requires them to sign a term of responsibility affirming that they:

  • Understand and accept the principles listed in the Code of Ethics and Conduct for Suppliers:
  • Will seek to comply with the terms and conditions in the Code and will seek to follow the Code, develop it and integrate it into its own management processes;
  • Will try to share with Vale and its network of suppliers any efforts, problems and progress made in incorporating the proposed practices, with a view to making the company’s business activities sustainable

The Code of Ethics and Conduct for Suppliers has a chapter called ‘Human Rights’, which addresses the issues of ‘working conditions’, ‘diversity’, the ‘inclusion of disabled people’, ‘child labour, slave labour and labour analogous to slave labour, the sexual exploitation of children’ and ‘gender equity’. In addition, since 2010, in Brazil, the company includes a sustainability clause in contracts with suppliers making it obligatory for suppliers to comply with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for Vale’s Suppliers and to share the values set out in the Sustainable Development Policy and the Human Rights Policy. Vale plans to include this requirement in future contracts with suppliers in other countries where the company has operations. The initial focus of our human rights training strategy was the Company Security Department. Since 2008, an average of 3,500 employees and outsourced workers in this area have been trained every year. The second step was to establish a partnership with the Law School of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) in São Paulo for the development of a training course on Business and Human Rights with a focus on the main issues in the mining sector and, specifically in Vale. The course was developed in 2012 and 2013 and then used to train the company’s senior officers (directors, managers and supervisors) in both the corporate and operational areas in Brazil and Mozambique. The partnership also involved training the Community Relations teams that work with our operations and projects in Brazil. In 2014, we prepared and organised a training course specifically for company security staff, given their important role in managing contracts with security service providers and the scope for them to act as replicators of company practices. In total, 127 professionals were trained and are capable of replicating the courses for service provider employees, which they do on an annual basis.

Due diligence (impact assessment, integration and monitoring). In order to assess the real and potential impact of its activities on human rights, Vale developed the following tools: Global Human Rights Management Panel, Human Rights Violations Risk Matrix and the Human Rights Impact Assessment Tool. The Global Human Rights Management Panel tool identifies inherent risks of violating human rights in the places where Vale is present. The Panel includes all Vale operations, projects and offices in the world, which are presented in the form of a georeferenced map. Indices of inherent risk are calculated for all operation, project and office locations. This information is used to conduct a human rights risk assessment, using the Human Rights Violations Risk Matrix. This tool is applicable to all our capital projects since 2012 and will become applicable for operations from 2015. So far, the tool has been applied at eight capital projects. Our plan is to train local teams to apply the tool at all our main operations and projects. Once risks have been identified, action plans to prevent, control and mitigate impacts must be formulated and implemented. The Human Rights Impact Assessment Tool was formulated in 2013. It comprises a detailed methodology and a questionnaire. The idea is to use this tool for operations and projects that have a greater inherent risk (information taken from the Global Human Rights Management Panel) or where there is the greatest perception of risk (information obtained using the Human Rights Violations Risk Matrix). We are currently concentrating on extending the use of the Human Rights Violations Risk Matrix, so we can prioritise locations for using the Human Rights Impact Assessment Tool. This tool has not yet been used. We have established some procedures for managing the risk of human rights violations in our supply chain. When registering providers of services for internal units, we check whether they are complying with their legal obligations and whether they have unresolved cases at the National Social Security Institute (INSS) or the Government Severance Indemnity Fund for Employees (FGTS). If this reveals any irregularities and a supplier is not prepared to resolve them, the company will not register it as a Vale supplier.

The company periodically assesses service providers’ compliance with their obligations under labour legislation. We also monitor the Ministry of Labour and Employment’s (MTE) dirty list, which identifies companies and individuals reported for possible incidents of forced labour.  For example, in 2013, we identified three suppliers on our register that had been placed on this list. However, we had not carried out commercial transactions with them while they were on the list and new acquisitions with these companies are blocked. In 2013, the company created a Sustainability Module to be included at the existing procedure for risk assessment of suppliers. It takes into account environmental, health and safety, and human rights aspects, including themes such as child labour and forced labour.. The company conducted a pilot study in 2013 and the methodology was applied to priority service providers at Vale’s biggest current project (S11D) in 2014. These experiences will be used to establish a procedure for more extensive application of the Module in the company.

Complaints and remedy mechanisms are dealt with under item No..4 – Stakeholder engagement.

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

Vale believes that open and direct social dialogue is an increasingly important part of company strategy, because it facilitates the growth of relations of mutual trust and respect between the company and communities. Vale’s social policy is therefore to develop a close relationship with stakeholders, understanding their needs and cultural diversity, responding to their grievances and demands and trying to work together towards sustainable solutions. Since 2012, in order to improve the process of engagement and respond to community demands, Vale has been introducing a structured and permanent social dialogue with communities. This creates opportunities for inclusive and participatory social interaction, which helps us to share information, promote mutual understanding and cooperation, listen and understand the interests and expectations of communities and take them into account when taking management decisions at the company level. In 2013, we worked with communities to develop an instrument called the Social Relationship and Investment Plans. Communities discussed the challenges and opportunities facing them, decided on priority actions and defined responsibilities and partnerships. This facilitated more assertive decision making when aligning social activities and investments with local needs. The activity was carried out in communities in Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Maranhão, Pará, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

The channels used for dialogue with the communities are:

  • Participatory Socioeconomic Assessments
  • Participatory Formulation of Social Relationships and Investment Plans
  • Alô Ferrovia – available to Vale train passengers and communities
  • Contact Us (available through Vale’s website)
  • Ombudsman (available through Vale’s website)
  • External publication — Newsletter.
  • Direct contact with Community Relations Department team (in person and by telephone).

In 2012, the company began to use the Stakeholders, Demands and Issues Tool (SDI) to manage its relations with communities impacted by company operations. The use of the Tool was extended to operations in Mozambique in 2013. The tool was designed to improve existing procedures and systematize information about the communities and their demands in order to facilitate a more proactive, integrated and effective way of dealing with these demands. Another objective is to get a clearer idea of what communities want and to facilitate the channelling of resources to deal with the issues raised by communities. The use of an online standard system allows the tool to build up a database that can be customised in accordance with the needs of each community. In 2013, the tool was used to record 3,200 demands.

Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?

The company selected the following from a checklist:

  • Health (including environmental health, workplace health &
  • safety)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Forced labour and human trafficking (including in supply chains)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Displacement and community relocation
  • Access to water
  • Housing
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Relations with security forces
  • Transparency in payments to governments / responsible tax practices
  • Women
  • Children (including child labour)
  • Indigenous peoples

Actions on children (including child labour)

An example of action taken by Vale to defend and promote human rights is the Vale Foundation Social Promotion and Protection Programme. Below I will describe the activities conducted in 2013, given that the information of 2014 has not yet been collated. This includes activities aimed to strengthen social promotion and protection networks, raise public awareness and mobilise Vale employees, suppliers and the business sector in general to take action to stop sexual violence against children and adolescents. The projects dealing with this issue are consistent with the guidelines issued by the National Human Rights Secretariat of the Republic Presidency and the Integrated Promotion and Protection of Children and Adolescents policy.

Fighting the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. Federal Law No.  9970/00 established a National Day on 18 May 2000 for Fighting the Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Adolescents to mobilise Brazilian society to protect the country’s children and adolescents. The Vale Foundation organised a month-long campaign in May and promoted extensive activities by Vale employees and suppliers, including talks, the distribution of T-shirts and folders containing educational materials, Health and Safety Dialogue (DSS) and an online campaign (Mobilização Virtual). The latter was an initiative taken by Vale Volunteers. Conducted through Facebook, it included the creation of an event on Vale’s profile and an invitation to exchange avatars for a Dial 100 image, the main tool used to fight this type of crime. As a result, the invitation was passed on to 24,000 people and the campaign received 36 million hits on the social network. Another campaign initiative was the Round of Conversation, with the participation of managers and employees in Rio de Janeiro and Maria do Rosário Nunes, Minister for Human Rights at the President of the Republic’s Office. Among the issues dealt with were the violation of the sexual rights of children and adolescents and initiatives by Brazilian companies to stop the sexual exploitation of children.

Fighting Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children and Adolescents Programme. This initiative included coordinated activities and the dissemination of instruments for the prevention and combat of the sexual exploitation of children. The project is a Vale Foundation partnership with the National Human Rights Secretariat of the Republic Presidency, UNESCO, the NGOs Oficina de Imagens and Instituto Aliança. Project activities are conducted in Barão de Cocais, Itabirito, Mariana, Nova Lima, Ouro Preto and Rio Acima in Minas Gerais, and in Canaã dos Carajás in Pará. In 2013, 11 meetings were held to discuss the project with members of the Children’s and Adolescents Human Rights Guarantee System (SGD) in these places, and especially with the Municipal Children and Adolescent Rights Councils (CMDCA). The project also produced educational materials (videos and booklets) for use in training and other activities.

Training courses for Municipal Children and Adolescent Rights Councils. The aim of the courses is to strengthen the councils, help them to become more effective and improve management of the Childhood and Adolescents Fund (FIA). In 2013, training courses were given in 3 municipalities: Barão de Cocais in Minas Gerais; Itaguaí and Mangaratiba in Rio de Janeiro. For this initiative, the Vale Foundation works in partnership with Oficina de Imagens.

Strengthening Youth Action in the SocialPromotion andProtection Network. This initiative aims to increase the capacity of adolescents, young people in general and social organisations to take action and participate in activities to reduce the occurrence of violations of the rights of children, especially violence against children. In 2013, activities were organised, including five workshops, in 2 municipalities: Ouro

Preto (Antonio Pereira) in Minas Gerais and Parauapebas in Pará. The Vale Foundation’s partners in this project are UNESCO, Instituto Aliança e Ofinica de Imagens.

Pact to Fight Violence Against Children and Adolescents. Government agencies, civil society and companies, including Vale suppliers, met in November 2013, in Canaã dos Carajás, Pará, to sign a commitment to combat sexual violence against children and adolescents, given the presence of relevant projects in the region. In December, the same commitment was signed in São Luís, Maranhão. As a consequence, a Municipal Commission was created in Canaã dos Carajás to coordinate activities. A workshop was also organised to discuss following up proposals for activities with the local Promotion and Protection Network, in conjunction with the Municipal Plan to Combat Sexual Exploitation. Another initiative in the municipality was the organisation of a Seminar on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. In Maranhão, the commitment was signed by companies, the State Committee for the Defence of the Rights of Children and Adolescents and the Carajás Iron Railway Municipal Consortium (COMEFEC), which involves 21 municipalities. The proposal is to work with employees, communities and the social promotion and protection network to prepare a plan of activities to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

Our commitment to human rights is expressed in our Human Rights Policy, which is publicly available, as described in item No. 1 on ‘Policy Commitments’. We use internal channels to communicate our commitments to our employees and to give guidance on what it actually means to respect human rights in their day-to-day lives. In 2013, for example, a Vale Foundation partnership with Canal Futura resulted in the production of eight videos on human rights in the corporate world. The videos are available at [link] In 2014, the company organised an internal communications campaign to show the videos and encourage managers to talk about these issues with their teams. Our annual Sustainability Report, which follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, describes how the company deals with its impact on human rights. The report also describes our progress in applying the UN Global Compact principles. Concerns, denunciations and allegations of human rights violations can come from different sources. Denunciations received by the Ombudsman are dealt with through its stablished treatment flow. Other formal allegations that require the company to take a position are analysed and dealt with by the interested parties of the company. The company produces and communicates action plans when such denunciations identif failures in our procedures.

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

The creation in 2013 of the Ombudsman Department at Vale, which reports to the Chair of the Board of Directors, was an important step in improving our procedures for dealing with complaints. Allegations of irregularities, impropriety and other financial issues, accounting issues and other issues related to internal controls, ethics, human rights, health and safety, environment and the security of information can be made anonymously to the Ombudsman. People can use an online form, letter, e-mail or telephone to communicate their concern to the Ombudsman. Anyone using the telephone, e-mail or the online form receives an access code that they can use to submit additional information or track processing of the complaint and any results of the investigation. The Board of Directors delegates the task of investigating complaints  and other issues and of keeping the board informed to the Ombudsman Department.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

Vale is signatory to the UN Global Compact and is one of the select group of companies that are members of the Global Compact Lead. We do an annual report on progress with the application of the principles set out in the Compact in our Sustainability Report. We are members of the Global Business Initiative (GBI) and Business for Social Responsibility (BRS) and we participate actively in information exchange about best practices, challenges and solutions relating to Business and Human Rights. We adhere to the Corporate Commitment to Combat Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents, issued by the National Human Rights Secretariat of the Republic Presidency and to the Commitment and Attitude Maria da Penha Law, put forward by the Women’s Policy Department of the Republic Presidency in Brazil.

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

In response to the UN Guiding Principles, Vale has made progress in its due diligence procedures in relation to human rights since 2011. However, it was with the adoption of the GRI for the Sustainability Report in 2007 that the company adopted a new perspective regarding the management of human rights. In this context, I have listed below the main milestones regarding our progress since 2007.

• 2007. Ÿ Adoption of the GRI methodology for the Vale Sustainability Report.

• 2008. Ÿ Launch of the Sustainable Development Policy; start of human rights training for employees and outsourced workers in the security sector (training takes place annually as of this year).

• 2009. Ÿ Launch of the Human Rights Policy; Code of Conduct for Suppliers.

• 2010. Ÿ Launch of the Human Rights Guide; development of the Human Rights Risk and Impact Assessment Tool for use in mergers and acquisitions; Development and application of Cycle I of the Social Maturity Model.

• 2011. Ÿ Partnership with the National Human Rights Secretariat of the Republic Presidency against the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in the Salobo Project in the state of Pará (this model was adopted by other Vale projects in Brazil as of 2013).

• 2012. Ÿ Development and implementation of training for managers on Business and Human Rights in partnership with the FGV (also in 2013); creation of the Global Human Rights Management Panel in partnership with Maplecroft; launch of the Guide on Community Relations for Capital Projects and the first version of the Human Rights Risk Management tool; creation of the Issues and Stakeholders Management Model.

• 2013. Ÿ Revision of Human Rights Policy; second version of the Human Rights Risk Management tool and implementation of a pilot project; launch of the Resettlement of Vulnerable Communities Normative Document; implementation of Cycle II of the Social Maturity Model (this methodology is being replaced by the risk assessment tool); creation of an Ombudsman Department.

• 2014. Ÿ Application of the human rights risk assessment tool to 7 capital projects; revision of the Human Rights Guide; training of operations managers and the Vale security team using new internationally discussed practices.

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

Our greatest current challenge is establishing a model for integrating human rights risks and impact assessments that can be assimilated by the company’s different processes and actors. The risks of violating human rights can be present in various processes (for example, recruitment, management of people, management of contracts, implementation of works), which may come under different departments (for example, Human Resources, Community Relations, Environment, Security) and in different places. We are making progress in relation to promoting dialogue and analysis of the integration of existing company processes. The exchange of information about the best systems for achieving this integration would be extremely useful.