The name of the Capitão do Mato mine and dam, which are part of the Vargem Grande Complex and located in Nova Lima (MG), has been changed to Horizontes mine and dam. The change reinforces Vale's inclusive and anti-racist policy, which seeks to promote equal opportunities, the appreciation of black professionals and the fight against racism. The company has already formalised the change with the competent bodies and updated the structures' signage.
In Brazil, the “capitães do mato” were, for the most part, poor but free men whose function was to capture and punish escaped slaves. The name is now considered a racist term. The Capitão do Mato mine and dam were acquired by Vale from the former Minerações Brasileiras Reunidas (MBR), in a process that ended in 2007. The mine began operating in 1992 and the dam in 2014. Regardless of the reason, the old name caused discomfort to several employees of mine and dam operations, as it dates back to the era of slavery of African women and men forcibly removed from their continent and brought to the country on slave ships, during the Brazilian colonial period.
To choose the new name for the company's structures, an internal competition was held to raise awareness of employees and promote a more diverse and inclusive culture. “The change in the name of the mine is an action full of symbolism and which strengthens our anti-racist position. We have a duty to build a work environment free from ethnic-racial discrimination and we call on everyone to be active in the fight against racism,” said Marina Quental, Vice-President of People at Vale.
As part of an internal communication campaign, the employees themselves chose the new name: Horizontes, the most popular option and suggested by the Vargem Grande Complex operations analyst, João Gomes. “We cannot forget the past, but we need to build a better future, based on racial equity. In addition to paying homage to the beautiful landscape of the place, I thought about the more respectful and diverse horizon that we are building in our company and in our society,” he said. The name change is part of Vale's commitment to promoting racial equity, which has reached important milestones in recent years. In 2021, the company publicly launched an anti-racist manifesto and set the goal of having 40% of senior leadership positions (coordinators and above) occupied by black employees in Brazil by 2026. The company is advancing towards the goal and closed the month of July with a representation of 34% in these positions, considering self-declared black people.
Vale also develops Potencializando Talentos Negros, an internal training program to empower its professionals, encourage the exchange of knowledge and the alignment of life and career purposes. The objective is to accelerate the development of these people's skills and competencies, increasing their readiness to occupy managerial positions. In August 2023 Vale initiated the second class of its outreaching Career Acceleration Programme for Black Women, with 50 places. The programme, developed in partnership with consultants specialising in racial issues, is online, with live classes, free and lasting five months. The initiative is aimed at black women who do not work at the company. To participate, candidates must identify themselves as black or mixed race, wish to self-develop and have completed a higher education course between December 2013 and December 2019.
Aware of the importance of collectively confronting racism, Vale has associated itself with other companies committed to the issue. Since 2021, Vale has been part of the Movement for Racial Equity (MOVER), an initiative that brings together around 50 companies and aims to generate 10,000 new leadership positions for black people, in addition to training 3 million black professionals across Brazil. Last year, Vale joined the Racial Equity Promotion Pact, which proposes implementing a Racial ESG Protocol for Brazil, bringing the racial issue to the centre of the economic debate and attracting the attention of large national and multinational companies and civil society for the topic.