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Dangerous mine waste disposal sites, called tailings dams, threaten communities and ecosystems across Brazil. In recent years, tailings dam failures have led to the loss of hundreds of lives and have destroyed entire watersheds and communities. Meanwhile, the mining industry and Brazilian government have failed to take meaningful steps to prevent tailings disasters.

Earthworks supports frontline community groups and social movement organizations calling for safer tailings disposal facilities and demanding justice for the crimes committed by mining companies that have led to loss of life and destruction of entire communities.

Earthworks works with communities from the Amazon to south-central Brazil affected by dangerous tailings disposal sites. In the state of Minas Gerais, Earthworks has joined the calls for justice and equitable reparations for the victims of the Mariana and Brumadinho tailings dam failures. We also work to highlight the ongoing threats posed by the dozens of potentially unstable tailings facilities across the region.

In the Amazon, Earthworks supports the demands for clean drinking water from the community of Aurizona, whose main water source was contaminated after a dam failure in 2020.

We also participate in the Aliança Volta Grande do Xingu to stop the construction of Brazil’s largest open-pit gold mine operating without the consent of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. The proposed tailings dam for this mine could have disastrous consequences for the Amazon rainforest and its capacity to provide environmental services and mitigate the climate crisis.