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Tailings dam failures represent one of the highest risks associated with the mining industry. When such a disaster happens, it usually has enormous social and environmental consequences. The literature commonly suggests that dam failure events happen after periods of increased mineral demand. During high demand peaks, more waste material is generated, and during the recession, financial cutbacks can lead to unpredicted effects on safety, especially in operations where the domestic authorities have less capacity to monitor and reinforce the rule of law. Based on document analysis from data collected during the first 60 days after the Fundão dam failure in Brazil, the results highlight the capacity of companies and authorities to deal with disaster remediation, which has enabled multilevel activism. It shows how collective actions are relevant to support local claims/campaigns connected to rights and the service of justice in the disaster aftermath.
Mariana Galvão Lyra is a researcher and coordinates the Institute for Natural Resources, Environment and Society (LYY) in the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies at the University of Eastern Finland. She has a business administration background by training and has been analyzing the tensions between large companies and local communities in Brazil for ten years now. In particular, she is interested in shedding light on the groups who are fighting for social and environmental justice