The valley – after which Vale, Brazil’s largest mining company and joint owner of the collapsed dam, was named – had become not just bitter but also potentially toxic.
Inspection of the dams, such as that which gave way in Mariana, is the responsibility of the National Department of Minerals Research (DNPM), with Brazilian media this week reporting that only around 400 of the country’s 15,000 dams were surveyed last year. A report by the National Water Agency found only 11pc of the registered dams in Brazil had been classified according to the degree of potential damage.
Two of the players in the mining joint ventures have been set up as standalone companies with equity shared between BHP and its partners.
BHP’s partners in the Antamina mine are Glencore, Teck Resources and Mitsubishi. BHP, Glencore and Anglo American each have a third share in Cerrejon.