Responsible for the worst environmental crimes in Brazil’s history, the bursting of the Mariana dam in 2015, and the Brumadinho dam in 2019, which killed more than 270 peopole, mining company Vale now puts at risk the lives of locals, in the places it continues to operate during the coronavirus pandemic. This past friday (10), the first covid-19 death of one its workers was reported.
The city of Parauapebas (state of Pará) mayor’s office confirmed the death of a 42 year old man, who worked at the Serra Norte Plant nearby, and had no recent travel history or preexisting conditions. The website Mining Observatory says the worker fell ill on March 29th, he was then admitted to the Yutaka Takeda health center on April 4th, and on Wednesday the 8th, was transferred to the ICU where he later died.
Márcio Zonta, member of the People’s Sovereignty Over Mining Movement (MAM), points out that the death is a result of the government’s actions, ratified in a current law that sees mining as an essential business activity. The approval of this measure by the Mining and Energy Ministry went against the various concerns unions and social movements raised regarding the issue. They claim that Vale’s day to day operations increase the risk of contagion and community transmissions, intensifying the spread of the virus throughout the country.
Images taken by MAM, show that the company’s employees are still subject to conditions counter to the recommendations for combating the disease of not only the Health Ministry, but also the World Health Organization, having to gather in large groups in bus queues or inside cafeterias. “This reinforces the need for the immediate suspension of all mining activity in the country”, MAM concludes.
In a video published by MAM, clinical physician Luiz Leite de Oliveira Filho, commented on the death of the mining company’s employee, “they literally stalled him for five days” at the Yutaka Takeda Hospital, built by Vale in the city of Carajás, until he had to be taken to the ICU at Intensicare. “When death became imminent, Vale transferred him so he would die at a different hospital, so they don’t have to take the blame”, Márcio Zonta adds.
The doctor affirms that he “confronted Vale’s infectious disease expert”, saying the company would only open it’s eyes when this became a public emergency. “The city is perfect for the spread of the virus, and we’re already seeing tons of community transmissions”, the doctor noted.
Vale’s press release
Vale is sad to confirm the death of one of its employees, that occurred last Friday afternoon, April 10th, in Paraupebas (PA), of a suspected covid-19 infection. The company awaits the results of lab tests in order to confirm the cause of death. We are providing all the necessary assistance to the family and following the guidelines set forth by medical experts healthcare authorities of all countries we operate in.
Edited by: Larissa Gould