A rescuer and a sniffer dog look for bodies in the mud on May 3, months after a tailings dam collapsed at the Corrego do Feijao mine in Brazil. The upstream tailings dam owned by mining giant Vale burst on Jan. 25, killing at least 240 people. (Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images)
A Brazilian state judge on Tuesday convicted mining company Vale SA for damages caused by the deadly rupture of a tailings dam in January that killed at least 240 people.
Judge Elton Pupo Nogueira ruled that Vale is responsible for fixing all the damages, although he did not set a monetary value for compensation, the Minas Gerais state court said on its website.
It “is still not possible to quantify solely by technical-scientific criteria,” the statement said.
The value “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,” the statement quoted Nogueira as saying.
Vale did not immediately respond to request for comment. The company also operates mines in Canada.
The 11 billion reais ($3.8 billion) in Vale assets already frozen by courts will remain blocked, it said.
A dam containing mining waste at a Vale facility in the town of Brumadinho collapsed on Jan. 25, burying workers, residents and huge swaths of the environment in red-brown sludge.
In 2015, a larger dam collapsed in the same region, killing 19 people and burying homes in what became known as Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.