The Brumadinho disaster on 25 January 2019 was one of the worst ever mining accidents when a tailings dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijã mine near Brumadinho in Brazil, suffered a catastrophic failure. Some 259 people were reported killed and 11 missing, most of which were Vale employees.
As to be expected, this disaster led to the average number of fatalities across leading mining companies rising considerably in 2019. Comparing data across 50 leading mining companies from 2014 to 2019, the average number of fatalities had fallen from 6.0 in 2014 and 5.8 in 2016 to 4.8 in both 2017 and 2018. However, it rose to 8.7 in 2019 because of the disaster.
This somewhat masks improvements seen across many mining companies. In 2014, only seven of the 50 companies analysed experienced zero fatalities. This was 10 in 2018 and then 16 in 2019, the highest number across all six years studied. Some 26 companies saw a decrease in fatalities in 2019, whilst for seven it was zero in both 2018 and 2019, versus 14 that saw an increase. Within those 14, after Vale, the main increases were at Glencore (17 in 2019 vs. 13 in 2018), Evraz (16 vs. 10) and Arcelor Mittal (21 vs. 10).
When looking at other safety metrics, such as Lost-Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) and Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rate (TRIFR), these have also fallen over the last few years. For the 38 companies reporting their LTIFR for each year from 2014 to 2019, the average has fallen each year from 2016 to 2019, from 2.26 per million hours worked in 2016 to 1.81 in 2019. Significant improvements over the period have been seen at AngloGold Ashanti where the LTIFR fell from 5.74 in 2016 to 2.26 in 2019; at Boliden where it dropped from 8.9 in 2015 to 4.4 in 2019, and at Anglo American where it fell from 2.35 in 2015 to 1.36 in 2019.
Meanwhile, for the 31 mining companies reporting their TRIFR for each year from 2014 to 2019, the average fell from 4.68 in 2014 to 3.54 in 2019. The biggest improvements in 2019 were at The Mosaic Company (40% reduction) and AngloGold Ashanti (31% reduction), whilst over the period there have been significant improvements by Northern Star Resources, Polyus Gold and Lundin, as well as AngloGold Ashanti.