Brazil's Vale fined $17 mln for Brumadinho tailings dam disaster

* Nicaraguan Priest detained amid government, church tension

* Venezuela's gold reserves drop six tonnes in first half of 2022

* Brazil's Lula regains healthy electoral lead in new poll

Aug 15 (Reuters) - The latest in Latin American politics today:

Brazil's Vale fined $17 mln for Brumadinho tailings dam disaster

SAO PAULO - Brazilian miner Vale was fined after the country's comptroller general decided the firm failed to present reliable information on the conditions of its Brumadinho tailings dam prior to a 2019 disaster, the company said on Monday.

The comptroller general, a branch of Brazil's federal government, set the fine at about 86.3 million reais ($16.8 million), the firm said in a securities filing.

The mining giant said it disagreed with the decision and would appeal within the next 10 days.

Priest detained in Nicaragua amid tension between Church and Ortega government

The Catholic Church denounced the arrest of a priest after presiding a mass in a parish in an indigenous community in the Caribbean region of Nicaragua, amid growing tension between the church and the government of President Daniel Ortega.

The diocese of Siuna, where the parish is located, reported the arrest of priest Oscar Benavidez in a statement on Sunday night and said they do not know the reasons for his arrest, but are awaiting information from the authorities.

Relations between the Catholic Church and the Nicaraguan government have been tense since the Church tried to serve as a mediator in 2018 after an Ortega-backed social security proposal sparked nationwide protests.

Venezuela's gold reserves drop six tonnes in the first half of 2022

CARACAS - The Venezuelan central bank's gold reserves dropped by six tonnes as of June 2022, according to the bank's first-half balance sheet published in a local media outlet last week and seen by Reuters on Monday.

The quantity of gold bars in the bank's vaults at the end of the first half of the year was equivalent to 73 tonnes, the lowest in 50 years, according to notes on the bank's financial statements.

Last July, the UK Supreme Court rejected an effort by the government of President Nicolas Maduro to seize control of more than $1 billion in Venezuela's gold reserves, which are held in the vaults of the Bank of England.

Brazil's Lula up 4 points, increases election lead over Bolsonaro - poll

SAO PAULO - Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva extended his lead over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro ahead of an October election, a new poll showed on Monday, with the leftist drawing 45% of voters support against 34% for his right-wing adversary.

Lula's lead went back to double digits after dropping to 7 percentage points earlier this month, the BTG Pactual/FSB poll showed. In a second-round runoff, Lula would beat Bolsonaro by 53% to 38%, up from 51% to 39% in the previous poll.

The poll surveyed 2,000 people by phone from Aug. 12 to 14 and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points up or down.
Compiled by Steven Grattan; Editing by Richard Chang

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