A state court in Brazil convicted mining company Vale SA for damages caused by the deadly rupture of a tailings dam in January that left 247 people dead and 23 still missing.

Judge Elton Pupo Nogueira maintained a freeze on US$2.9 Billion in Vale assets.  His ruling said, "will not be limited to the dead, but also effects on the local and regional environment, in addition to economic activity in the affected regions," although that value has not yet been determined.  The costs will include the deaths as well as damage to the environment and local economy.

For its part, Vale reaffirmed its "total commitment to fair and quick reparations for the damages caused to families, community infrastructure, and the environment".

On 25 January, a tailings dam at the Corrego do Feijao mine suffered a catastrophic failure and collapsed.  Toxic red sludge spilled down over the operation and the cafeteria while many workers had just sat down to lunch.  It continued to spill downhill, burying the village of Bento Rodrigues and polluting the Paraopeba River - the region's main river - which supplies water to one third of the Greater Belo Horizonte region.