February 19, 2019 / 3:26 PM / 6 months ago

German firm halts Vale dam certifications after disaster

FILE PHOTO: A helmet with a logo of Vale SA is seen in a collapsed tailings dam owned by the company, in Brumadinho, Brazil February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Washington Alves/File photo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - German inspection firm TÜV SÜD said on Tuesday it will no longer certify tailings dams owned by the world’s largest iron ore miner Vale SA, after a dam burst in January, killing over 300 people.

The firm, which had signed off on Vale’s dams in the past, said in a statement there was “heightened uncertainty” over whether the current certifications system is appropriate.

Brazilian authorities arrested two TÜV SÜD employees in the wake of the disaster, but freed them soon later.

The firm has also been investigating its own role in the collapse of the dam in the town of Brumadinho, and had hired two external law firms to look into its auditing practices.

“It would be absolutely unacceptable for TÜV SÜD if declarations were signed against better judgment,” the company said. “This would go against all the company’s rules and its philosophy.”

Separately, also on Tuesday, Moody’s said Vale faced a heightened credit risk after the disaster in Brumadinho. The death toll from the dam collapse is now at 169, with another 141 still missing as of late Sunday.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Christian Plumb and Bernadette Baum

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