Anglo American’s Ruptured Pipeline Is 2nd Mine Incident in Brazil in 2018

Anglo American Plc’s Brazilian iron-ore mine suffered operational delays after a pipeline ruptured Monday morning, the company confirmed by email.

The good news is that no one was hurt, the company said. The troubling news is the mishap marks the second potentially harmful mining incident in Brazil this quarter.

Late last month, Brazilian authorities ordered Norsk Hydro ASA’s Alunorte alumina refinery to reduce production by half, citing worries that a rainstorm had caused the leaking and contamination of a nearby river. Located in Brazil’s northern Amazon region, Norsk’s alumina refinery is the world’s largest.

Unfortunately, memories of Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster, also a mining accident, are still fresh. In November 2015, a rupture at Samarco Mineracao SA’s tailings dam sent billions of gallons of sludge into a river valley. The spill killed as many as 19 people and devastated an entire region. Cleanup continues to this day and thousands are still without jobs as the mine has failed to reopen amid re-licensing delays.

Anglo’s Brazilian iron-ore operation, known as Minas-Rio, has been benefiting from China’s increased appetite for high-quality iron ore, which the mine produces. The company recently secured a first stage license to expand the mine’s capacity and produce more of the steel-making ingredient. Anglo ceased some of its activities on Monday, it said by email, as it tries to identify the cause of the spill and guarantee that it did not inflict serious environmental damage to the surrounding area and a nearby water supply.

Norsk Hydro has yet to resume operations at full capacity. The company hired a local environmental consultancy firm to perform an independent review and confirm whether the operation has caused any damage to the environment, according to statements on its website.