Engineering and Infrastructure in Dam Construction~Lessons from Vale Brazil .

Engineering and Infrastructure in Dam Construction~Lessons from Vale Brazil .

On Tuesday 28th, the mining company Vale withdrew from the UN Global Compact, the largest social and corporate responsibility network in the world. This information appears on Vale’s page on the site of the United Nations initiative.

The multinational’s decision to withdraw from the Compact was taken after pressure from civil society. In February 2019, an international group of organisations formally requested the United Nations to delist the company due to the bursting of the tailings dam in Brumadinho (MG) that happened on 25 January and left approximately 170 people dead and dozens missing and homeless.

At the time, the organisations claimed that Vale had not fulfilled the principles set out in the Compact concerning a number of rights, among them human, labour and environmental rights, because it had failed to: carry out an appropriate evaluation of the risks; to take measures to prevent and mitigate damage and for having failed to take preventative steps following the Mariana (MG) dam burst in 2015.

The disaster in Brumadinho shows that favouring profit over safety has been Vale’s standard operating procedure,” the organisations claim in their letter of condemnation. “It took another lethal dam collapse with unmeasurable human suffering and environmental destruction for Vale to announce a long due decision to decommission high-risk “upstream dams” that are built with obsolete and unsafe technology.” They add.

According to the letter of condemnation, Vale deployed extensive political and financial resources to resist legal accountability for the first disaster. The company adopted a discourse of commitment to the highest standards of corporate social responsibility, while failing to review its business model or its processes and policies in order to prevent new catastrophes.


“Such a method of doing business is in conflict with the principles and spirit of the Global Compact,” say the organisations. “Vale must bear the consequences for its failure to prevent such an outrageous disaster from happening just three years after the Mariana dam burst.”


In the letter, the organisations request that the mining company should submit regular reports on measures taken to remediate the environmental damage caused by both the Brumadinho dam and the one at Mariana. They also request that the Board of the Compact demand that Vale should demonstrate through concerted action that it is fully committed to changing its corporate culture, policies and processes to become a truly human rights and environment respecting company.


The following organisations signed the letter of condemnation: Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad, Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Clínica de Direitos Humanos da UFMG, Conectas Direitos Humanos, DAR (Derechos, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), Defesa dos Territórios Frente à Mineração, DPLF (Due Process of Law Foundation), FARN (Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights), FUNDEPS (Fundación para el desarrollo de políticas sustentables), Global Justice Clinic of the New York University, Greenpeace Brasil, Justiça Global, MAB (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens), Articulação Internacional dos Atingidos e Atingidas pela Vale, MiningWatch Canada, PODER (Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research), SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations).


The UN Global Compact


The UN Global Compact, launched in 2000, was an initiative of the then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the aim of which is to encourage the worldwide business community to adopt corporate practices guided by human, labour and environmental rights and to fight corruption. The Compact has the voluntary participation of around 13 thousand signatories, working in over 160 countries, committed to the Compact’s ten principles and who provide information on their activities in periodic reports.

In Conclusion ,Construction and Engineering companies need to take due diligence in the construction and engineering of dams and other amenities that affect people’s daily lives. The adherence to sustainability and human rights is a right step.


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