Anger at burst dams in Brazil focuses on Vale, mining code
By Stephen Eisenhammer and Marta Nogueira
MARIANA, Brazil Nov 10 (Reuters) - As despair turns to anger over a deadly dam burst at a Brazilian mine, lawmakers pushed on Tuesday for tougher regulations in a new mining code and iron ore giant Vale SA came under pressure to help mourning families and contain the environmental impact.
In five days of rescue efforts in towns ravaged by the massive mudflow, six bodies have been found and 22 people are still missing, making it one of the worst mining disasters in Brazil's history.
The tragedy in the mineral-rich southeastern state of Minas Gerais has displaced hundreds of residents, triggered investigations by prosecutors and spurred calls for stricter oversight of the mining industry, a huge provider of jobs and government tax receipts.
The chief sponsor of a new mining code in Congress, Leonardo Quintão, told Reuters on Tuesday that he planned to add measures to tighten regulation of tailings dams like the two that collapsed on Thursday.
Minas Gerais' governor, Fernando Pimentel, acknowledged state mining regulations are not enough and his aides said they may need to rethink their efforts to fast-track licensing.
Public criticism fell first on mine operator Samarco but the spotlight has turned to the big names behind the 50-50 joint venture: Australia-based BHP Billiton Ltd , the world's largest mining company, and Brazilian partner Vale , the biggest iron ore miner.
"Samarco is just a name they made up. We need BHP and Vale to take responsibility for this tragedy," said Duarte Junior, mayor of the town of Mariana, who has coordinated relief efforts.