In 2012, human rights abuses and environmental transgressions earned Brazilian mining giant Vale the inglorious title of the “worst company in the world” by Swiss sustainable development group Public Eye (previously called the Berne Declaration). Vale is the world’s largest iron ore and nickel producer, but it also is in the phosphate and nitrogen industry, as well as copper, coal, manganese, and alloys.
By any standards, its laundry list of crimes should mean significant legal consequences. But for the Brazilian economy, Vale is simply too big to fail. Now, in the wake of Brazil’s worst mining disaster, Brazilian federal prosecutors are running up against a company seemingly still unwilling to make significant changes.