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Brazil's Vale to pay $46 million for failing to meet deadline to remove tailings dams

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FILE PHOTO: A logo of the Brazilian mining company Vale SA is seen in Brumadinho
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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) -Vale SA on Friday will sign an agreement with local authorities requiring the Brazilian miner to pay 236.7 million reais ($46 million) for failing to meet a legal deadline to decommission its tailings dams in the state of Minas Gerais, a document seen by Reuters showed.

The deadline, which expired on Friday, has been considered unrealistic by the mining industry ever since it was first set in early 2019, a month after the collapse of a tailings dam in Brumadinho that killed 270 people.

According to the draft agreement, struck with the Minas Gerais state prosecutors, the company will also meet a series of obligations to remove all of its upstream tailing dams.

The figure Vale has to pay will be used to fund projects aimed at environmental preservation and the improvement of the government's actions related to the safety of tailing dams, the document showed.

The miner confirmed the signing of the agreement and reiterated its commitment to remove the dams "in the shortest time possible, having as an absolute priority the safety of people and care for the environment".

It also said that the agreement brings "more legal and technical security to the process of decharacterization of the company's 23 upstream dams in Minas Gerais."

Brazilian prosecutor Carlos Eduardo Ferreira Pinto told Reuters that the agreement does not extend the deadline or grant amnesty, but is a technical and legal adjustment.

Vale said it removed seven structures since 2019 and expects to end 2022 with 40% of its upstream dams eliminated. This means that 12 out of its 30 mapped dams will have been eliminated by the end of this year.

($1 = 5.15 reais)

(Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Writing by Carolina Pulice and Peter Frontini; Editing by Chris Reese)