Besides the huge human loss — already 110 deaths and 238 missing —, the Brumadinho dam collapse sparked such outrage in Brazil because a similar incident happened just three years ago. And once again, the company responsible for the tragedy and environmental damage is Vale, one of Brazil’s largest companies, and the world’s largest iron ore and nickel producer. Why were no lessons were learned since 2015? Earlier this week, we showed that part of the problem is that it took less than a year for Vale to recover its value after Mariana, as investors are more worried about commodity prices than environmental catastrophes.
But a bigger part of the issue concerns how authorities didn’t hold Vale accountable for anything. Most fines imposed after the 2015 Mariana tragedy have yet to be paid. And the Minas Gerais State Congress struck down a bill that would have tightened regulations on mining activities. To find out why, it is helpful to take a look at Vale’s behavior in providing campaign donations.