Flow from the mining landslide at Pau Branco – The Landslide Blog

Flow from the mining landslide at Pau Branco

The mining landslide at Pau Branco caused a significant leak of mining waste, which appeared to have flowed into the water retention structure below. This image, from the Observatório da Mineração, shows the flow path: –

8 January 2022 landslide flow path at Pau Branco mine in Brazil. Image via Mining Observatory by Bruno Costalonga Ferrete.


As the image shows, the landslide, which remained essentially intact, was defeated by the landslide (note the superficial erosion on either side of the dam abutment) . The debris, probably now more liquid after trapping water and saturated sediment from the lagoon, flowed across a major road, the BR-040. This is a nice catch up in the video below, posted on Youtube:


On Youtube, videos have been posted of the road situation as the flow approaches. The best of these were taken from a lorry on the road at the key moment: –


Another video recorded the incident from a different angle:


Meanwhile heavy rains continue in Brazil. As a result, a number of mining operations have been suspended, including those by Vale and Samarco, both of which have experienced major failures in recent years. Vallourec, who operates the mine at Pau Branco, has been ordered for the environmental damage caused by Saturday’s slope failure totaling over R $ 289 million (about $ 52 million).

Unfortunately, some newspapers suggest that the landslide was linked to the death of a family of five. The situation is a bit unclear – the Forum reports (in Portuguese): –

The family avoided the landslide and followed another path, but eventually were buried. The bodies of the victims were found on Monday (10).

The suggestion seems to be that the family diverged as a result of the road closure, but were subsequently buried by a separate landslide.

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