Brazil miner Vale cuts output as disaster death toll rises

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Aerial view of mud and waste from the disaster caused by a dam spill in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 26 January 2019Image source, EPA
Image caption,
The dam, which is owned by Brazil's largest mining company, Vale, gave way on Friday

Vale is to decommission dams similar to the one that collapsed in Brazil last week in a move the mining company says will reduce its production of iron ore.

The world's biggest producer of iron ore and nickel said the three-year plan would cut its iron ore output by 10%.

It follows Friday's dam collapse in Brumadinho which has claimed 99 lives, according to Brazilian authorities. About 259 are still missing.

Vale's share price - which has been battered since the disaster - rose 7%

The cuts are expected to cost 5bn reais (£1bn) over the next three years.

It will require operations at mines producing 40 million tonnes of iron ore a year to be suspended, the company's chief executive Fabio Schvartsman said.

According to Mr Schvartsman, these the dams are already inactive, but are surrounded but current mining operations, as was also the case in Brumadinho.

It comes after the disaster in November 2015, when a dam owned by Vale and BHP Billiton, burst in Mariana, also in the same state of Minas Gerais.

That accident killed 19 people in what was considered Brazil's worst environmental disaster at the time.

It is feared that more than 300 people could have died after the latest dam failure which released mining waste into Vale's facilities and the local community.

The dam was holding back sludge by-product from iron ore mining.

On Tuesday, police in Brazil arrested five people as part of an investigation into Friday's dam collapse and said three of those arrested were officials from Vale.

Chinese iron ore futures rose on Wednesday, as any cut in production could push up prices which in turn to led to rises in the shares of mining rivals BHP Group and Rio Tinto.

US investors said they will file a class action against Vale and its executives for failing to disclose environmental risks.

Vale promised to defend itself against the allegations.