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  • A logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA is seen in Brumadinho, Brazil.

    A logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA is seen in Brumadinho, Brazil. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 March 2019

Brazil's mining firm Vale SA activated alarms near 3 dams that are in risk of rupture after a dam collapsed in January killing 300 people. 

Brazilian mining company Vale SA activated alarms in areas below three tailings dams Wednesday night due to an elevated risk of rupture, amid a tense atmosphere in Minas Gerais state where a dam burst in January killed about 300 people.

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The company activated alarms in areas downstream of the B3/B4 dam and the Forquilha I and Forquilha III dams as a “preventative measure,” after the structures failed to receive safety certification from independent auditors.

There will be no new evacuations from the area, Vale said, as residents had vacated the relevant danger zones in February.

In late January, a tailings dam at Vale’s Corrego do Feijao mine in Minas Gerais ruptured, unleashing a torrent of sludge that killed hundreds. It was the second deadly rupture of a Vale-linked dam in Minas Gerais in just over three years.

Two months after the rupture of the dam, more than 90 people are still missing.

"Of much sadness, of much pain and, at that moment, of a revolt that grows every day, because my son was not the victim of an accident, those more than 300 people were not victims of an accident, they were cold-bloodedly assassinated. Whoever signed that report attesting to the conditions of the dam was aware of what he was doing and could, at any moment, kill everyone," said the mother of a victim.

Since then, the firm has pledged to decommission dams built in a similar fashion to the ones that burst, and several executives, including the chief executive, have stepped down.

In November 2015, another dam burst in the state of Minas Gerais inundated the small village of Mariana and killed 19 people.

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