LAPFF chair announces Brazil dam collapse visit

Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) chair, Cllr Doug McMurdo, has announced a two and a half week visit to Brazil to see communities affected by the Mariana (2015) and Brumadinho (2019) tailing dam collapses.

This trip will come after three and a half years of engagement with both affected communities and the shareholding companies involved: BHP and Vale in relation to the Samacro (Mariana) collapse, and Vale in relation to the Brumadinho collapse.

In 2019, the LAPFF wrote to Vale and its joint venture partner BHP Billiton over concerns regarding the Brumadinho dam collapse and, in a series of tweets, it said it had raised responsibilities of senior partner companies for the actions of joint ventures partnerships, particularly regarding Brazilian dam strategies.

Earlier this year, the LAPFF published a report on human rights practices in the mining industry covering five companies, Anglo American, Glencore, Rio Tinto, Vale, and BHP.

The report identified that the accountability gap relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices in joint ventures between companies was a “main concern”.

The report stated that there were “a number of human rights challenges” facing mining companies with “much room” for improvement in addressing these challenges, and that they often have serious financial consequences.

During his trip, Cllr McMurdo is planning to meet with Vale chair, José Penido, and Renova Foundation CEO, André de Freitas.

The Renova Foundation is an organisation set up by BHP, Vale and Brazilian authorities to administer compensation, reparations, and resettlement after the Mariana collapse.

Cllr McMurdo commented: “This trip is long overdue. I was planning to visit before the Covid pandemic.

“The upside of the delay is that I have had an extra two years to engage with the communities and companies by video link to understand better what I will see when I am in Brazil.

“Sadly, in many respects, it sounds as though very little progress has been made, for example in the re-building of houses after the Mariana (Fundão) dam collapse.

“I am keen to see with my own eyes the impact of these disasters on the communities and to take in fully the financial consequences for the companies involved, ultimately shareholders.”
Cllr McMurdo will speak about the trip and report on a webinar on his return.

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