Hundreds forced to flee as Brazilian miner Vale evacuates towns nears another of its mines

Callum Keown
Follow Callum
An estimated 300 people were killed when a Vale-owned dam burst near Brumadinho last month (Source: Getty)

Hundreds of people have fled their homes after Brazilian authorities ordered mining company Vale to evacuate town nears its Minas Gerais mine over fears it could burst.

Vale said it had ordered 500 people from three communities to evacuate towns around its Sul Superior tailings dam at the Gongo Soco Mine after intervention from the national mining agency.

Read more: Vale takes £1bn hit in safety push after mining disaster

Two weeks ago a dam breach at another Vale mine nearby in Brumadinho killed an estimated 300 people.

The world’s largest iron ore miner said it was a preventive measure after consulting company Walm refuse to declare the mine was in a stable condition.

“The action [evacuation] started earlier this morning and will cover about 500 people in the communities of Socorro, Tabuleiro and Piteiras, all located in the city of Barao de Cocais,” the company said in a statement.

"As a safety measure, Vale is intensifying the inspections of the Sul Superior dam," it added.

The Brazilian miner said it would take a £1bn financial hit following the Brumadinho tragedy - the deadliest labour accident in Brazil’s history - in order to improve safety.

After today’s evacuation and the growing risk of another dam burst, shares in the company fell 1.6 per cent hitting 11-month lows.

Read more: Rio Tinto pledges to take part in response after Brazilian dam tragedy

Last month, in the aftermath of the disaster prosecutors in Brazil seized more than £2bn in assets from the company to ensure the miner patches up the burst dam.

Three years ago a dam run jointly by Vale and BHP burst in nearby Samarco, killing 19 people.