The mining company responsible for a catastrophic 2019 dam collapse that killed 270 people in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais will give $7 billion in compensation.
Executives from the mining company Vale signed the agreement Thursday in an effort to give some repair to the massive economic and environmental damage done when the dam broke in the town of Brumadinho. The ensuing wreckage from a massive wave of toxic sludge leveled hundreds of acres of natural forest and polluted a nearby river, while also destroying homes and burying roadways.
The dam was designed to hold waste from a nearby iron ore mine. It is believed to be the most expensive such settlement in Brazilian history, according to a statement from the Minas Gerais government.
Some staff members from Vale, Vale’s ex-president Fabio Schvartsman, are still facing murder charges in Brazil as a result of the collapse.
The state of Minas Gerais had previously requested more than $10 million, in part for the relocation expenses and incredible psychological toll the dam’s collapse had on locals.
Locals criticized the state government for not being able to be more involved in negotiations with Vale over the settlement, saying much of the process was behind closed doors. Government officials said about a third of the $7 billion settlement will go to the affected town of Brumadinho, with a special fund for the families of victims.
This was the second time in five years that disaster had struck from a Vale project, as a subsidiary of the large ore mining company saw a dam collapse in the Minas Gerais town of Mariana in 2015. That accident killed two dozen people and destroyed a pair of villages.
Michael has been a reporter covering Latin America since 2014. He has lived and worked in Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico. His work from the region has appeared in The Guardian, The Associated Press and Vice.