Brazil petrochemical giant’s salt mine partially collapses

11 December 2023, 09:14

APTOPIX Brazil Mine Rupture
APTOPIX Brazil Mine Rupture. Picture: PA

The area had previously been evacuated and there were was no risk to people, the civil defence authority said.

A mine belonging to Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem ruptured and partially collapsed on Sunday in the northeastern coastal city of Maceio, the city’s civil defence authority said.

Video the authority distributed shows a sudden bubbling of the water in the Mundau lagoon in the city’s Mutange neighbourhood, caused by the mine’s rupture.

The area had previously been evacuated and there were was no risk to any people, it said in a statement.

Braskem’s 40 years of rock salt mining in Maceio has prompted the displacement of tens of thousands of people and on November 28 the company alerted authorities of the imminent risk the mine would collapse. Land around the mine has been steadily sinking ever since, falling a total of 2.35 metres as of Sunday morning.

Brazil Mine Rupture
Sunken ground at the Mutange neighbourhood in Maceio, Alagoas state, Brazil (Itawi Albuquerque/AP)

On November 30, Alagoas state governor Paulo Dantas warned of the possible “formation of large craters” following the mine’s collapse and said federal teams would arrive that night as back up.

Local residents were told not to travel near the area.

In the first few days, Braskem sent regular updates, including possible times at which the mine could collapse.

Between 1979 and 2019, when Braskem announced the shutdown of its rock salt operations in Maceio, the company operated 35 mines.

Troubles in Maceio began a year earlier, when large cracks first appeared on the surface. Some stretched several hundred metres. The first order to evacuate some areas — including parts of the Mutange neighborhood — came in 2019.

Since then, residents in five neighbourhoods have accepted Braskem’s payouts to relocate. According to the Brazilian Senate’s website, some 200,000 people in Maceio were affected by the company’s mining activities.

In July, the company reached a 356 million dollar (£284 million) settlement with the coastal city.

Aside from mine 18, which ruptured on Sunday, Braskem says it is in the process of filling eight other cavities with sand.

Rock salt mining is a process of extracting salt from deep underground deposits. Once the salt has been extracted, the cavities left behind can collapse, causing the soil above to settle. Structures built on top of such areas can topple.

Braskem is one of the biggest petrochemical companies in the Americas, owned primarily by Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras and construction giant Novonor, formerly known as Odebrecht.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Alec Baldwin Set Shooting

Assistant director says armourer handed gun to Alec Baldwin before fatal shot

Iran Election

Question marks over turnout as Iran heads to the polls

New Zealand Volcano Trial

Tour operators told to pay £6.27m over volcanic eruption

Israel Palestinians Rafah Photo Gallery

Israeli troops ‘fire on people waiting for aid’ as Gaza death tolls hits 30,000

Bangladesh Fire

Dozens killed in fire at shopping centre in Bangladesh capital

Former Ambassador Arrested

Former career US diplomat admits spying for Cuban intelligence for decades

Donald Trump

Trump appeals against decision to remove his name from Illinois primary ballot

The man was found at his home in Herne, Germany.

Horror as man found with ‘penis bitten off and eaten by pet dog’ after neighbours reported relentless barking

Russia Ukraine War

Russian onslaught targets more Ukrainian towns and villages

Sergei Sokolov

Editor of top independent Russian newspaper detained for ‘discrediting military’

Texas Wildfires

Huge wildfire grows to become largest in history of Texas

Nicaragua Crackdown Scouts

Nicaragua crackdown ‘tantamount to crimes against humanity’ – UN

Paris Atmosphere – Liverpool v Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League Final

Leap-year newspaper raises money and laughs in France

Paul Pogba has been banned

Paul Pogba banned from football for four years after ex-Manchester United star failed drugs test

OLY Paris Games Olympic Village Inauguration

Macron vows to swim in cleaned-up Seine during tour of Olympic village

Figure Humanoid Robots

ChatGPT creator signs deal to put AI into humanoid robots