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Life after the devastating disaster mining


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"My cafe was my dream. I do not know what will happen to him now, "says Frans Geruza

It was a slow, rainy Saturday summer evening and tourists begin to fill up restaurants and cafes in Macacos, a beautiful area in the valleys of Minas Gerais.

Suddenly, the evening calm was broken spine frost on & # 39; ads from the warning sirens.

"Attention, this is a real situation. Platinum only broken, immediately evacuate out of your houses, which moved from the output to a safe place and wait for further instructions. "

The whole place went into panic mode, as tourists and residents got in their cars and clogging the narrow streets of the city. Some have left all their belongings behind.

Just two weeks ago, in neighboring Brumadinho earthen embankment tailings pond operated by Brazilian mining giant Vale broke, killing 308 people. It was the worst industrial disaster in the history of Brazil.

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Tribute to victims of the collapse of the dam Brumadinho in the iron ore mine in Minas Gerais

All in Macacos thought the same thing was going to happen.

false alarm

But it was a false alarm. Vale issue has been identified in the dams and decided to sound a warning, but the dam had not actually been violated.

Fortunately, no lives were lost, but Macacos so far been affected. It was paradise, as an area for wealthy tourists, high class restaurants and elegant hotels.

Previously fully booked throughout the year, but now that more and more aware of the tailings in the area, no one wants to come here. Hotel reservations have been canceled, and the most prestigious restaurant has closed.

I visited Macacos only after the carnival week, which is usually a busy time of year. Most of the residents in the lowlands have been forced to flee their homes. Among the few still left business owners. But they do not know whether to wait for things to change, or start your life and business elsewhere.

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Tourists stopped coming to Macacos since Brumadinho disaster

"Our economy is over, business owners can not earn a living anymore. All the peace and quiet we had to wake up in a safe place, no »Geruza France, which has a café Judith tells me.

All my savings from years of work in Europe were introduced in its cafes and the property around Macacos.

"My cafe was my dream, I do not know what will happen now, I keep him thinking .. I've lost all your sleep at night It's like someone came and snatched it all away?".

Leonardo Batista, who manages the hostel Pousada Kumaru, argues that much of the area is located on a hill and will not depend on any break of the dam, but he does not know whether the business be able to convince tourists to return.

Security "revolution"

Macacos with & # 39 is one of dozens of towns and districts in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, which are experiencing the effects of Brumadinho tragedy.

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"Now that the Vale?» Asked this sign in Macacos

In the aftermath of the disaster, the practice of mining will finally be recycled.

Vale and other companies, along with local authorities, who are working to eliminate the risk of further tragedies decommissioning of the tailings 50 – drain the water from them.

After several years of inactivity, it is now moving. I recently visited five of these dams in Minas Gerais and saw the work done in all but one.

But there are economic consequences as well. The work will take three years to complete, and mining is currently suras & # 39; ozna broken, with Vale to stop production at some mines.

Dangerous mining would be disastrous; with no production at all economically devastating.

"We do not want Vale to stop production here, but we do not want to be the ones to pay for their own problems," says the mayor Itabiritu Alex Salvador.

In the city, 65% of its revenues come from Vale operations, which are currently suspended due to court rulings. He already has to plan for cuts in education, health and public cleansing.

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Alex Salvador: "We do not want Vale, to stop production here, but we do not want to pay for their own problems."

In addition, there are security concerns. If two dams near Itabirita breaks, the city will be hit in a matter of hours. Just a few days after Brumadinho, the city authorities have come up with the evacuation plan.

Itabiritu there are signs indicating evacuation routes and meeting places in a high place. Warning sirens will be installed next month.

global impact

Problems of Minas Gerais and Vale not only affects the local economy. Global iron ore prices rose in January as Vale with & # 39 is the number one manufacturer in the world – and the state of Minas Gerais accounts 45% of its production of iron ore.

Iron ore is trading at $ 74 per tonne before Brumadinho. It reached $ 95 per ton, immediately thereafter, and now stands at about $ 85 per ton.

Analysts say that prices will remain high for several months, as are a lot of questions. How much Vale would have to pay in compensation and fines? There will be new rules for mining increases production costs?

After a few months, these failures start pushing up the cost of steel and construction worldwide.

However, because Vale is such a powerful player in the global catalog, it actually benefits financially from this supply disruption.

Immediately after the accident, he saw about $ 19 billion erased its share of the cost. But as no other firm is not able to assume their share of the market Vale, iron ore price increase is currently working in his favor.

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Dirt from the collapse of the dam Vale – Iron ore prices have risen since the disaster

Even a sharp decline in production, Vale shares are now at the same level, that shortly before the tragedy, increasing anger felt by communities that claim reparations from the company.

tighter control

One thing is almost unanimous among iron experts: Brazil needs a more strict control of mining practices as well as the decommissioning of the tailings dam to the & # 39 is a matter of urgency.

Brazilian authorities are investigating the causes of the tragedy Brumadinho. Vale Some leaders were arrested and questioned, but no one so far has not been before the & # 39; revealed by the prosecution.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive Vale Fabio Schvartsman resigned after the unsuccessful performance in Congress, where he told MPs that "Vale with & # 39 is a Brazilian gem" and "should not be condemned" for what he described as " accident. "

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Vale Fabio Schvartsman was forced to resign after a disastrous press conference

Vale executives rejected a request by the BBC for the interview & # 39; S. In a statement the company said that "100% focused on the support of those who have suffered, and in response to the rupture of the dam."

In addition to the decommissioning of mines, Vale made a donation to the victims and resettlement for those in risk areas.

Therefore, in Macacos, where local business owners desperately seeking answers from Vale, there is still a lot of anger and a little faith in the company.

Geruza France was thinking of closing his cafe. What she could not understand how such a powerful campaign has caused so much destruction in the lives of so many people.

"As these leaders can behave like this? I do not think that they are made of flesh and blood. I think that they are made from iron ore. "

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