U.S. financial watchdog has accused Brazilian iron ore maker Vale of making false claims about safety before one of the worst disasters in the history of the mining industry.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said the miner, registered in Sao Paulo and New York, had manipulated dam safety audits, obtained a number of fraud stability certificates and regularly misled local governments, communities and investors about the dam safety that collapsed in 2019 killing 270 people.
“While ostensibly obscuring the environmental and economic risks posed by its dam, Vale misled investors and raised more than $ 1 billion in our debt markets while its securities were actively traded on the New York Stock Exchange,” said Melissa Hodgman, SEC Joint Enforcement Officer. Disclaimer. The SEC is seeking civil penalties and a retirement award.
Her complaint, filed in New York court, constitutes a withdrawal for Weil. The miner tried to rebuild his reputation and relations with local communities following the disaster and is working to eliminate dams built in the same design as the one that exploded.
Two hundred and seventy people – mostly Weil workers and contractors – died when nearly 12 million cubic meters of mining waste were spilled from a storage dam near the town In Romanadino in southeastern Brazil. The Córrego do Feijão mine disaster occurred four years after a similar incident at a nearby mine jointly owned by Vale and BHP.
In its complaint, the SEC claims that “for years” it knew that the Bromedino dam, which was built to contain toxic by-products from mining operations, did not meet internationally recognized standards for dam safety.
“However, Vale’s public sustainability reports and other public veterans have fraudulently assured investors that the company has adhered to ‘the most stringent international procedures’ in assessing dam safety and that 100 per cent of its dams have been approved in a stable condition.”
In a statement, Weil said she would defend “vigorously” against the SEC’s denials, which she denies.
“The company reiterates the commitment it received immediately after the dam was breached… To repair and compensate for the damage caused in this incident,” it read. Last year, and did not reach an agreement a A $ 7 billion compromise With the Brazilian authorities on the disaster.
Under the Biden administration, the SEC has increased its focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) discoveries, and in March 2021 set up a task force tasked with identifying gaps or misleading statements.
“Many investors rely on ESG disclosures like those featured in Vale’s annual sustainability reports and other public documents to make informed investment decisions,” said Gurvir Gravel, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
“By ostensibly manipulating these revelations, Weil added the social and environmental damage caused by the tragic collapse of the Bromedino Dam and undermined investors’ ability to assess the risks posed by Weil’s securities.”
The SEC announcement came after Vale posted a net profit of $ 4.46 billion in the first quarter, down one-fifth from the same period in 2021, but exceeded analysts’ expectations. The miner also unveiled its largest share purchase with plans to repurchase 500 million shares – about 10% of its equity.
Vale shares rose more than 2% in Thursday afternoon trading in New York, giving the company a market capitalization of more than $ 80 billion.
The dam that burst b Bromadinho Was 86 m high. It was built in 1976 by Ferteco Mineração – a company acquired by Vale in 2001 – using “upstream design” whereby waste mining materials were pumped to a storage pool behind a starter mud wall. New tail dams upstream have now been banned in Brazil.
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