Ethical Investment: Brumadinho Tailings Storage Facility


January 5th, 2022


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The Challenge

Ethical investment is a rapidly growing form of investment which seeks to not only consider the financial return but also the impact of the individual companies within the investment portfolio on its governance, and its impact on society and the environment. Consumers are increasingly engaging with companies that carry out trusted sustainable practices. Therefore, the application of an ethical investment strategy can yield greater profits, with reduced risk. More significantly, this type of investment is profoundly beneficial to our planet by prioritising socio-environmental topics and holding companies accountable for the impacts of their activities. 

An example of a group of ethical investors is the Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative which is governed through a steering committee chaired by the Church of England Pensions Board and the Swedish Council of Ethics of the AP Funds. This group was convened in 2019 after the failure of the Brumadinho tailings storage facility in Brazil, which cost 270 people their lives and created lasting environmental damage. A tailings storage facility (TSF) is a manmade structure to hold the waste material, and often toxic chemicals, associated to the extraction of metals and minerals. 

The Investor Mining & Tailings Safety Initiative recognised the need to strengthen standards around the safety and monitoring of the tailings within the industry. As part of this initiative, it was acknowledged that there is also the need to independently monitor all tailings facilities worldwide. Satellites have been identified as one of the cornerstone technologies for such a monitoring system due to their independent and global scale of operations. 

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Our Solution

Our satellite derived insights provide a cost-effective monitoring solution that can aid ethical investment across the entire mining life cycle (planning, maintaining, and decommissioning). Mining related incidents like this have massive socio-economic repercussions, and therefore continue to demonstrate the need for mitigation planning and continual monitoring.  

This includes: 

  • Identifying presence of seepage and leaching 
  • Monitoring embankment and regional stability 
  • Creating regular TSF profiles and volume (including freeboard) 
  • Identifying TSFs, local communities and pollution 
  • Identifying the location and size of tailings ponds 
  • Conducting predictive risk analyses and modelling 
  • Monitoring local and regional land use change