A Brazilian tragedy is a Deepwater Horizon moment. Sort of

FROM THE air, the iron-ore mines in Minas Gerais look like roughshod capitalism let loose. Mines are torn out of the landscape, and ramshackle mining towns exist perilously close by. Squeezed within the dense topography are tailings dams, pools of waste material extracted from the mine that sit behind pharaonic embankments reaching dozens of storeys high. On January 25th an 86-metre-tall one owned by Vale, the world’s biggest iron-ore producer, breached, unleashing a wave of sludge that may have killed more than 350 people. They included hundreds of the company’s own employees, many of them having lunch in the cafeteria, recklessly sited below.

Such a death toll would make this one of the worst tailings tragedies in history; worse for instance than Aberfan in Wales in 1966, or Buffalo Creek, West Virginia in 1972. Even more damaging for Vale, this is the second such disaster in which it is implicated in just over three years. For...

via Business Feeds

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