International investors react to Vale’s oversight for dams after tragedy

On January 25, one of Vale’s tailings dam collapsed, affecting more than 300 people among fatal victims or missing people. The disaster took place three years after a similar collapse in the facilities of one of Vale’s subsidiaries, Samarco, in the city of Mariana (State of Minas Gerais), which resulted in 19 deaths and a devastating environmental impact. The Church of England funds reacted immediately to the events and suggested that a system to supervise the conditions of the dams be created, according to a joint call published in January.

The idea has been endorsed by Swedish pension funds, Dutch funds APG and Robeco, New Zealand Super, UK’s LGPS Central and Canadian fund BMO. Together, they have combined assets over $1,3 trillion. On February 13, Robeco, with more than 170 billion euros under management, excluded Vale from its investment portfolio.

The funds are jointly proposing that a new system, independent of mining companies, be created to audit all tailings dams and verify that the highest corresponding safety standards are being implemented. All reporting, in turn, should be made public to communities, governments, investors and civil society.

“An independent classification system and new safety standards are now an urgent priority for the industry, investors and all stakeholders. Now more than ever is the time to take active steps. There are several practical models and structures that could be used to bring this into reality and we look forward to working with our partners to make urgent progress on this important issue,” said Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners for England.

Click here to read the complete proposal.