A team of academics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) is marking the international day of action for rivers by hanging out the dirty laundry of a very dirty company, the Brazilian mining firm Vale.

Vale is the company behind a recent massive mining incident in Brazil. The failure of their Brumadinho tailings dam killed at least 300 people, many of them the company’s own employees and caused enormous environmental damage that has destroyed the river and will affect people in the area for many years.

The international day of action for rivers aims to: “celebrate our life-giving waters, and honor all those who have worked hard to ensure that our rivers continue flowing“.

The ‘Vale Map’ shows that this was anything other than an isolated case. As the Brazilian lead researcher in the project Beatriz Saes says:

“Many people in Brazil are saying that it was not an accident. It was a crime.”

The ENVJUSTICE EJAtlas team at the UAB’s Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) called their map “¡Esto no Vale! Isso não Vale! Vale S.A. operations and socio-environmental conflicts”. The map currently details 27 socio-environmental conflicts in the world related to Vale S.A.’s mining and infrastructure projects.

The conflicts include mining exploitation and tailings dams, such as those that broke in Mariana (2015) and Brumadinho (2019) leaving behind hundreds of deaths and irreversibly contaminating rivers and lands.

The map shows that the mining company is responsible for a large array of socio-environmental impacts all over the globe.To mark the rivers protection day, the research team wanted to contribute to the global efforts of environmental justice groups to reclaim justice and to stop corporate impunity. The urged users to reflect on the wider problems generated by the resource extraction of large mining companies and their political allies.

The map is produced by the EJAtlas research group at the UAB together with Yannick Deniau of the Geocomunes collective (Mexico) and Beatriz Saes (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil).

The data was gathered by activist scholars, independent researchers and local activists and is part of an ongoing mapping process, which documents and publishes new cases of environmental conflict.

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