Three years after mining giant Vale's dam collapse killed at least 270 people in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, operations to decommission Vale's B3/B4 tailings dam are underway since its emergency level was raised to three, signaling imminent risk of collapse, in Nova Lima, Minas Gerais on January 24, 2022. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal

Three Years Later: Deadly Mining Disaster Still Tests Vale and Mining Towns Live in Fear of Another Dam Collapse

Marí­a Magdalena Arréllaga
Independent Photojournalist and Visual Storyteller based in Rio de Janeiro
Recent work for The Wall Street Journal, following up three years after mining giant Vale's tailings dam collapse that killed at least 270 people in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, where families of victims still seek justice. In dozens of towns surrounded by Vale tailings dams in the region, severe flooding has forced more evacuations and has left communities living in fear of another disaster. "We're living on top of ticking time bombs". 

Read the full articles here: Deadly Mining Disaster Still Tests Vale Three Years Later and Mining Towns Live in Fear of Another Deadly Dam Collapse.

Mining company ponders its metals future as costs from Brumadinho continue to rise—along with tensions with locals, regulators and investors

By Alistair MacDonald and Samantha Pearson | Photographs by Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal

Three years after Vale SA’s Brumadinho disaster, the fallout from the dam collapse that killed 270 people still looms large over the mining giant.Costs related to the incident have continued to rack up, Brazilian authorities have been slow to permit further mining amid safety concerns, simmering tensions between the miner and locals have resulted in a shower of lawsuits and some investors say it is too soon to reinvest in the company (...)

On Jan. 25, 2019, Vale’s dam near the town of Brumadinho collapsed, unleashing the equivalent of 4,700 Olympic swimming pools of muddy tailings—the rock leftover after the iron ore has been extracted—down the valley. While Vale has now completed settlements with state and federal authorities for around $7 billion in related liabilities, that money will continue to drain out of its bank account for several years.
Three years after the collapse of Vale's mine-waste dam that left at least 270 dead, contaminated water still flows through the Paraopeba River in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil on January 24, 2022. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Sandra Ribeiro's home looks over the contention wall that was built by mining company Vale after raising the emergency risk level of the tailings dam B3/B4 located upstream, in São Sebastião das Águas Claras, Minas Gerais, on January 23, 2022. Residents blame the wall for severe flooding in recent weeks that left the town stranded without electricity and clean water for several days. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Sandra Ribeiro, 48, stands in the small evangelical chapel she and her husband built in their yard in São Sebastião das Águas Claras, Minas Gerais, on January 23, 2022. Many locals have turned to God for comfort since the Brumadinho tragedy, she says. 'I think about God every second,' she says. 'We're in his hands.' Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Since the warning sirens rang in the town of São Sebastião das Águas Claras in the wake of Vale's dam collapse in nearby Brumadinho three years ago, hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate their businesses and homes located in the flood risk zones, where signs signaling escape routes and meeting points have also been installed by mining company Vale. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Leonardo Tolentino, a farmer and community leader of São Sebastião das Águas Claras, observes maps indicating the flood risk zones of the mines surrounding the town, at his home in São Sebastião das Águas Claras, Minas Gerais, Brazil, on January 23, 2020. Vale has occupied and messed with so much of this region,' he says. With warning signs now dotted across the countryside and towering stone barriers built downstream from the most dangerous dams, locals say they feel like they are living within a giant mining complex. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Known for it's natural attractions, São Sebastião das Águas Claras depends on tourism from nearby cities such as the state's capital city, Belo Horizonte and other states, although since the dam collapse and onset of the pandemic, bookings have decreased significantly. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Swiss hotel and restaurant owner Beat Willi, 64, awaits visitors to arrive for lunch at his restaurant in São Sebastião das Águas Claras, Minas Gerais, on January 23, 2022. Many hotel and business owners in the region are still fighting mining company Vale for compensation. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Since the warning sirens rang in the town of São Sebastião das Águas Claras three years ago, in the wake of Vale's dam collapse in nearby Brumadinho, hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate their businesses and homes located in the flood risk zones, where signs signaling escape routes and meeting points have also been installed by mining company Vale. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
An abandoned home located in the flood risk zone of the town São Sebastião das Águas Claras, Minas Gerais remains covered in mud after recent floods in the region, on January 23, 2022. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Residents prepare for events in remembrance of the lives of the victims killed three years ago by Vale's dam collapse in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, on January 24, 2022. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
An abandoned restaurant located in the flood risk zone of the town São Sebastião das Águas Claras, Minas Gerais remains covered in mud after recent floods in the region, on January 23, 2022. Since the warning sirens rang in the town of São Sebastião das Águas Claras three years ago, in the wake of Vale's dam collapse in nearby Brumadinho, hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate their businesses and homes located in the flood risk zones, where signs signaling escape routes and meeting points have also been installed by mining company Vale. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Contaminated water still flows through the Paraopeba River in downtown Brumadinho, Minas Gerais on January 24, 2022, three years after Vale's dam collapse that killed at least 270 people in the city. Recent floods in the region have once again forced families to evacuate their homes and businesses located in flood risk zones. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Avelino Oliveira Junior, 88, returns to his home to clean up after having to evacuate with his family due to recent flooding in the region, near downtown Brumadinho, Minas Gerais on January 24, 2022. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Residents prepare for events in remembrance of the lives of the victims killed three years ago by Vale's dam collapse in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, on January 24, 2022. Maria Magdalena Arréllaga for The Wall Street Journal
Public Story
Three Years Later: Deadly Mining Disaster Still Tests Vale and Mining Towns Live in Fear of Another Dam Collapse
Copyright Marí­a Magdalena Arréllaga 2022
Updated Feb 2022
Topics Capitalism, Climate Change, Environment, Health, Human Rights, Journalism, Photojournalism, Spotlight
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