At least 121 people are dead and hundreds are still missing at the Córrego do Feijão iron mine, operated by Brazilian mining giant Vale in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. The incident happened after a dam collapsed in late January and released tonnes of toxic sludge. Unfortunately this is not the first time that Brazil has experienced this type of loss: the 2015 Mariana dam collapse marked the worst environmental disaster in the country's history to date. Since then, the government reportedly failed to enact legislation to improve policies for securing dams, leading to this latest tragedy. Last week’s dam collapse is yet another wake-up call for governments to update their laws and policies to avoid such disasters.
This week, at South Africa’s largest mining conference, Indaba, our experts from the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) are organizing the Mining Indaba Roundtable Sustainability Forum, where we will focus on environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) and management in the mining sector. IGF members chose this theme as a primary area of focus for the IGF in 2017, recognizing the need to develop effective tools and processes that are not just about ‘ticking the box’, but about increasing transparency and preventing catastrophes, and putting people and the environment above pure economic considerations.
Group Director, Economic Law and Policy Program