In recent years, two mining tailings dams broke in the state of Minas Gerais, causing Brazil’s worst ever socio-environmental disasters. Hundreds were killed, millions were affected. Communities were displaced and two main rivers became mud, flooding the Atlantic Ocean with rejeito or tailings – the waste material of the mining process; toxic mud that is stored in massive dams over years.

Both dams that collapsed were operated by transnational mining giant Vale and certified safe by the state, which is home to another 354 highly precarious dams. Further dam collapses threaten millions in Brazil who live below these time bombs.

The shocking images of the two mining tragedies were explored to exhaustion by mainstream media. The documentary “Rejeito”, by Pedro de Filippis, points to the backstage and beyond following Teca, the sole citizen representative on the state environmental council. She voted against the certification of the dams which collapsed. Teca confronts the modus operandi of the government, while dam refugees resist mining companies’ abuses in their threatened communities.

After the film, Paul Robson from LMN’s Brazil Working Group will join speakers from Brazil Matters and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University to discuss the problems with tailings dams, their impact on the environment and how local communities are affected.