25 January 2021 marks the second anniversary of the collapse of the tailings dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho, Brazil. In rememberace of the 272 lives lost, and in solidarity with those still struggling for justice, London Mining Network has gathered together this list of resources.
Unable to find your loved ones, even after the tireless searches and rescue attempts by the emergency services, and only seeing… mud. The Brazilian mining giant Vale,one of the biggest mining companies in the world, has established many mining operations in different regions of the state of Minas Gerais, disfiguring the existing local political and social structures and creating a direct economic dependence on the corporation. At the Corrego do Feijao mine near Brumadinho it was no different. On 25 January 2019, a tailings dam at the mine collapsed, leaving hundreds dead or disappeared, buried in mud, families torn apart, friends and neighbours despairing in deep sadness, trauma and depression.
The International Independent Commission of Inquiry, with specialists in health, labour and mining, issued a report highlighting to the world that what the company did at Brumadinho was entirely predictable. Most of the victims of this crime in Brumadinho were mine workers from the mine itself, making it Brazil’s biggest labour disaster. We cannot call it an “industrial accident” of work, asit is known that Vale’s representatives were aware of the possibility of rupture – including the existence of cracks identified by the mining company’s workers. The report states that it was not an accident but a crime. With the sirens turned off, the victims did not even have the chance to run.
No money is worth a life. No profit is worth the life of these people. The trauma at Brumadinho is incalculable. People who once brought joy, affection and comfort will no longer return, and no money can pay for that. The sustainability of the local community of Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe indigenous people has been severely damaged, as they can no longer perform their rituals on the river due to contamination, or even use the water for consumption or irrigate their crops. Other communities, such as the Quiombola and local rural farming communities have also had their lives turned upside down.. In response to this crime, rather than resort to the usual institutionalised remediation processes, the authorities and the mining company need to fully take on board the structural, material and psychological impacts on the people of Brumadinho. Making the peoplesign remediation agreements, without having any other alternatives is humiliating and has nothing to do with justice. It has more to do with Vale washing its’ hands. Vale has destroyed the homes and the reason for living for many of the residents of Brumadinho and surrounding communities, however to this day the company is not recognising the crime it has committed. Respect, comprehensive reparations and justice are what the people of Brumadinho are expecting from Vale and the equally negligent public authorities.
The advocacy work done by local organizations, Church representatives, and other affected communities is a great example of collective solidarity in process, that has helped to strengthen the people of Brumadinho, echoing and giving voice to their call for justice.
Beneath, we reproduce some of the faces of the 272 people that Vale have extinguished with this crime that today marks two years of injustice. We hope that commemorating these people here, will help to ensure that all the victims of the dam collapse at Brumadinho will never be forgotten, nor shall the struggle against predatory mining abuses and the demand for justice be lost.
|Thiago Mateus Costa – 13 years working for Vale||Bruno Rodrigues – 3 years working for Vale||Everton Lopes – 8 years working for Vale||Eliane Melo (5 months pregnant) – 8 years working for Vale||Lecilda de Oliveira – 28 years working for Vale|
|Adriano Lamounier – 17 years working for Vale||Juliana Resende and Dennis Silva – couple who met working for Vale|
Adriano Caldeira – 12 years working for Vale
|Nilson Dilermando – 38 years of Vale||Priscila Ellen da Silva – 10 years working for Vale|
Gabriela Sarmet is co-founder of the Coletivo Decolonial, a researcher on socio environmental conflicts in Latin America and a volunteer & individual associate member of the London Mining Network