The office that enforces labor laws in Brazil’s Para state has stepped up an investigation into potential shortcomings in mining giant Vale’s efforts to protect workers from the coronavirus, authorities said on Wednesday.
The federal labor prosecutor’s office in Para has an internal working group in place known as the GEAF to monitor Vale’s iron ore operations in the Carajas region, near the eastern fringe of the Amazon rainforest.
The group was initially created to monitor the safety of mining waste dams in the region, after a pair of Vale-linked dams collapsed in recent years, killing hundreds.
In a statement on Wednesday, the federal labor prosecutor’s office, or MPT, said it was expanding GEAF’s remit to help gauge the measures Vale has put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 among workers.
The isolated region around Carajas is responsible for over 7% of the world’s iron ore production, and it has become a major coronavirus hotspot, spooking traders who are sensitive to any possible supply disruptions.
It’s not going away and won’t for a long time thanks to the partial lockdowns that only prolong the economic agony while delaying herd immunity: