By Marta Nogueira
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The Brazilian unit of steel group ArcelorMittal moved 30 families from their houses near its Serra Azul mine in the town of Itatiaiuçu, Minas Gerais state, as a precautionary action after it ran a new risk evaluation of a dam close to the mine.
The company said on Thursday that there was no change in the status of the tailings dam that was idled in 2012, but decided to transfer the families after updating its evaluation of potential risk areas in the case of an accident with the structure.
“After the update in the theoretical analysis of a dam burst, and adopting more conservative premises, the potentially impacted area was increased for a larger security margin,” ArcelorMittal said.
Several mining companies in Brazil have updated their risk analysis of structures after the deadly Vale disaster in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais state, early this year when a tailings dam burst killing 246 people. There are still 24 missing.
The dam at the Serra Azul complex is the same type used by Vale in Brumadinho, the so-called upstream structure.
Companies that decide to remove families from risk areas usually place them in hotels until a solution is found.
Some of the families removed from impacted areas in an earlier disaster in Mariana, in 2015, are still living in rented houses.
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