Brazil state prosecutors warn of possible mine dam collapse

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The prosecutor’s office for Brazil’s Minas Gerais state warned Thursday that a dam holding back mining waste could collapse in the next few days and told its operator, mining giant Vale, to inform nearby residents.

State prosecutors said Vale reported unusual movement at a mining slope 1.5 kilometer (just under a mile) from the Congo Soco mine, in the city of Barao de Cocais. According to a technical report obtained by prosecutors, it was established that if the motion continued, the slope could rupture sometime between Sunday and May 25.

Vale was not able to discount that the movement might damage the nearby mining waste dam and lead to its collapse. Prosecutors gave Vale six hours to inform nearby residents.

The company said later Thursday that it would increase awareness about the current situation and organize another drill Saturday. The dam was placed under a maximum risk level in February and people living in its close vicinity were evacuated then as a precaution.

In March, Vale warned that four of its dams in Brazil could collapse at any moment.

A Vale-operated dam in Minas Gerais failed Jan. 25, unleashing a destructive wave of mud that killed over 200 people.

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