Anglo expansion of Minas Rio faces legal challenge from Minas Gerais prosecutors

Vale tailings dam

STATE prosecutors in Brazil filed a lawsuit on March 3 requesting that Anglo American’s licence to expand a mining dam be suspended, said Reuters.

Citing a statement from the prosecutor’s office of Minas Gerais, the state in which Anglo’s Minas Rio iron ore facility is situated, Reuters said all further licences ought also be blocked until communities affected by the mining operations were relocated.

The state passed a law last year called “Sea of Mud, Never Again” to change mining rules following the collapse of a dam at a Vale SA facility that released a torrent of mining waste, killing at least 270 people, said Reuters.

Based on that law, Minas Gerais prosecutors are seeking to block the planned expansion in capacity of the Minas-Rio facility, which includes raising the height of a dam that contains mining tailings.

The company received the last licence it required in December to increase the complex’s total capacity to 26.5 million tons (Mt) of iron ore annually, from roughly 23Mt as of last year, said the newswire.

Anglo American said relevant authorities had recognised the validity of its licence and the part of the new law in question does not apply in this case. Anglo added that it had already established a voluntary relocation programme for families near the dam.

The Anglo dam is constructed in “downstream” technique, considered safer than Vale’s “upstream” style dam that collapsed, said Reuters.