One year ago, on November 5, 2015, a mining waste dam failed at the Samarco iron mine in rural Brazil, unleashing an enormous torrent of chemical-laden sludge into the Rio Doce. At least 19 people died and some 700 people were left homeless. Aquatic ecosystems were wiped out by the plume of pollution that reached the Atlantic Ocean. What remains is a polluted river that locals will have to contend with for decades to come.
“If the dam had collapsed at night, everyone would have died”.
These chilling words came from Duarte Junior, a mayor of a city downstream from Samarco mine waste dam that failed last month in Minas Gerais, a state in southwestern Brazil.
Perth, Australia, Nov 19 – Greenpeace protesters today disrupted BHP Billiton’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) to demand justice for the thousands of victims of the mining waste spill that destroyed the historic Brazilian town of Mariana in Minas Gerais state. The Germano iron mine, whose tailings (waste) dam failed on November 5th, is operated by Samarco - a joint venture co-owned by Australia-based BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, and Brazil-based Vale S.A, one of the world’s five largest mining companies.