Brazil mining agency to hire more inspectors, allowing annual checks on all tailings dams

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Brazil’s National Mining Agency (ANM) is set to hire 40 more safety inspectors, to more than double the total number of inspectors, allowing it to check all the country’s tailings dams annually, the agency’s director told Reuters on Thursday.

A 2019 disaster at iron ore miner Vale’s Brumadinho dam - the second fatal collapse at a Vale-affiliated facility in four years - alerted the mining industry and investors to the dangers of thousands of tailings dams around the world, many of which are in disrepair.

The ANM’s move would provide more safety to a powerful Brazilian industry that critics say often lacks oversight. Currently, the ANM has just 30 inspectors.

“Forming this team total of around 70, we can certainly do the inspection by visiting all the dams, every year,” the ANM’s director, Eduardo Leão, said in an interview. “(Currently) we are obliged to make a priority schedule, meaning there are three or four years that we do not visit some dams, while there are others that we visit every six months, because they are more complex, have more risks. “

Brazil today has about 430 dams that process tailings, or mining waste, of which approximately 220 are in the state of Minas Gerais, home to Brumadinho.

The Mines and Energy Ministry published the authorization on Wednesday in the official gazette for the federal government to start selecting candidates for the vacancies.

Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter in Rio de Janeiro Editing by Matthew Lewis