People learn by making mistakes. The same is true for companies and society as a whole—success depends on being able to internalize lessons and behave differently in the future, to avoid repeating the same errors. Firms tend to review their organizational structures and routine practices to flag problems before they occur, or respond quickly to unexpected problems and minimize their impact.
Apparently, this is not the case with Vale, the fifth largest mining company in the world. Vale is the planet’s biggest producer of iron ore and nickel and is also responsible for what may be the largest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history, after one of its tailings dams—an embankment built to hold back a vast reservoir of toxic mining byproducts—collapsed on January 25, 2019, at the Corrego do Feijão mine in southeastern Brazil.