Following the collapse in 2019 of the Vale Feijão Mine tailings storage facility (TSF) near the town of Brumadinho in Brazil that tragically left hundreds of people dead, the Brazilian government’s regulation of TSFs has become more stringent and obtaining licence approval is increasingly challenging. As a result of this changing regulatory environment, we will be decommissioning Serra Grande’s upstream TSF and AngloGold Ashanti Brazil is assessing a change from conventional tailings disposal to the dry stacking method. We have also increased the frequency of third-party TSF reviews so that they now occur biannually.
We have seven tailings dams in Brazil, six in the state of Minas Gerais and one in Goiás: Cocuruto, Rapaunha and Calcinados, located at the Queiroz Industrial Plant (Nova Lima, MG); CDS I and CDS II at the Córrego do Sítio business unit (Santa Bárbara, MG); Cuiabá Complex at the Cuiabá mine (Sabará, MG); and Serra Grande at the Serra Grande business unit (Crixás, GO). All of our structures have robust management and control systems and we continue to manage our TSFs to ensure they are safe and well maintained.
We have engaged with concerned communities to demonstrate the effectiveness of our management systems. In 2019, more the 850 people from our nearby communities participated in visits to TSFs. Meetings and training sessions were also held to educate local residents and to clarify any doubts or concerns they might have.
All our structures have siren alarm systems that notify residents of emergencies. To reassure communities and help them prepare for any potential emergency scenario, AngloGold Ashanti Brazil held a number of practice drills, simulating emergency situations. In 2019, three drills took place: in Crixás, in Nova Lima/Raposos and in Santa Bárbara. These drills involved people going to public assembly points using designated safe routes.
These efforts help to secure our licence to operate, and show we are working in good faith and in compliance with Brazil’s laws and regulations. They also emphasise that our first priority is the safety and health of our employees and the community members near our sites.