Delivered by Emeritus Professor Andrew Hopkins, this presentation concerns the organisational causes for the Brumadinho disaster.  Among other things it deals with

  • the failure of  dam safety auditors  to alert senior managers to the risk of failure

  • the effect of production incentive payments on Vale’s tailings engineers

  • the lack of any risk control in Vale’s iron ore business unit by Vale staff external to this business unit

  • the lack of any reliable mechanisms by which the Board could inform itself about risks.

  • the tendency of the board to trust what it was told rather than question it.

The presentation draws on two main sources - 

  • A major report into the accident chaired by a retired judge of the Brazilian supreme court.

  • an extensive interview with a Vale Board member

The presentation also considers briefly the extent to which the Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management embodies these organisational lessons.

Emeritus Professor Andrew Hopkins
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Australian National University
Member of the Expert Panel that drafted the Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management
Co-Author (with Deanna Kemp) of Credibility Crisis: Brumadinho and the Politics of Mining Industry Reform


Level 4, Sustainable Mineral Institute,
Sir James Foots Building #47A, Cnr Staff House Road,
The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus
Seminar Room