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Brazil: Christian Aid releases "The True Cost of Mining" report on the Brumadinho dam disaster

"The true cost of mining - Ensuring justice for people and communities affected by the Brumadinho dam disaster", 25 January 2021

The second anniversary of mining company Vale’s rights abuses in Brumadinho is 25 January 2021. Christian Aid and MAB (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens or Movement of People Affected by Dams) together commemorate the 270 victims who died and stand in solidarity with their families and communities...The UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes said ‘the Brumadinho disaster was technically caused by structural instability and liquefaction, the real cause lies with a remarkable lack of Government oversight and criminally reckless conduct by Vale.’ Court rulings, individual lawsuits and a remedy agreement for families who lost loved ones have been achieved. Yet the process of comprehensive redress to all affected communities, including for lost livelihoods and ecosystems in the region, is ongoing...

What needs to change:

• Families of the people killed by the Brumadinho dam disaster need to be fully compensated by Vale and responsible state actors;

• Compensation to people who have lost their livelihoods through contamination of waterways, lands and water should be provided using a fair, consultative and transparent process;

• People and communities displaced by further unsafe dams need adequate compensation, and support for their livelihoods;

• Mining companies with tailings dams in every country need to be subject to mandatory disclosure of risks. Initiatives such as the Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative are important initial steps but should be made mandatory;

• A gender impact assessment of the human rights abuses and reparations should be conducted, according to nationally approved legislation and following guidance issued by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights;

• Extraterritorial responsibility of multinational companies headquartered abroad should be ensured through duty of vigilance and mandatory human rights due diligence laws;

• A UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights should be agreed, providing robust access to remedy for human rights violations by multinational companies, including for individual victims, communities and to address gendered impacts;

• Robust implementation of human rights and environmental protection legislation should be ensured, with community participation. Modern mining generates huge volumes of waste; effective tailings management is crucial to reduce waste and protect communities and the environment. This requires mandatory legislation...