Brazilian prosecutors plan to file criminal charges against Vale SA and employees of the mining giant over the deadly collapse of a mine-waste dam in January, the lead investigator told The Wall Street Journal.
José Adércio Leite Sampaio, the prosecutor heading the probe, said investigators have gathered enough evidence to affirm that Vale employees directly involved in the operation of the mine knew the dam was unsafe. He didn’t name the individuals.
About 300 people died near the town of Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil on Jan. 25 when the dam collapsed, ranking as the world’s deadliest mining disaster of its type in more than 50 years.
“At this point, we know that the operational side knew [that the dam was at risk of collapse], but did Vale’s directors know?” Sampaio said in an interview.
Prosecutors are preparing to file charges for crimes related to the disaster, which could include murder, manslaughter, environmental damage and false representation, he said.
Over the next two to three months, prosecutors expect to determine if senior Vale officials, who were based at the regional office as well as the miner’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, also knew the dam was at risk of collapse, he said.