Monitoring the rainfall volume improves safety at mining companies  

Bad weather worries due to risks of dam failure, landslides and floods 

The good perspective with iron ore sales in 2023 encourages the mining sector in Brazil. This commodity has registered an increase since the end of last year, driven by optimism with the Chinese market reopening. But the companies’ focus on this product exports should be devoted with the same interest to monitor the rains intensity, which are considered worrying and capable of jeopardizing mining companies safety and regions where they are installed. 

According to Climatempo, this industry has suffered from the rainfall high volume, a worrying factor due to the risk of dam failures, landslides and floods. Only last year, the state coordination of Civil Defense of Minas Gerais released an alert with 413 cities in an emergency state.  

The company clarifies that the storms affected tailings deposits classified as safe, waste was spilled and even roads were blocked. This situation destroys impacted environment and increases mining activities vulnerability.  

As if that was not enough, the rains that fell in January 2023 reached 229.2mm and were enough to surpass by 28% the 182.2mm that flooded the capital of Minas Gerais in 2022. At the time, the dam Lisa owned by mining company Vallourec even overflowed, interrupting traffic on the BR-040 almost at the Ouro Preto interchange, between Brumadinho and Nova Lima, generating a fine of R$ 288 million for environmental damage.  

According to the National Mining Agency (ANM), Minas Gerais faced an intense rainy season in January of this year with 14 dams at alert level, 28 in need of reinforcement works (alert level 1), eight requiring urgent supplementary works and evacuation of inhabited areas (level 2), and three in imminent collapse (level 3), which are Sul Superior (Barão de Cocais) and Forquilha 3 (Ouro Preto), from Vale, and Serra Azul (Itatiaiuçu), from ArcelorMittal. 

Risk anticipation 

 As a result, monitoring with accurate prediction and alerts issued quickly can prevent serious accidents and make operations safer. According to the ANM, Minas Gerais and four other states were in a situation of attention, but precautionary and special conduct notices were issued in view of the scenario presented, to reinforce the dams monitoring. 

Still according to Climatempo, safety and proper functioning are basic requirements for a profitable and sustainable enterprise. Strong gusts of wind generate destruction and time loss in daily tasks, but specific planning with adequate projections is essential to optimize work in the open field and avoid incidents, to generate resource savings for the investor. 

By: Santelmo Camilo