Bartolomeo, speaking in an interview at the Reuters Impact conference, said the disasters - which killed nearly 300 people and caused huge environmental damage in Brazil - were a wake up call that forced the company to think differently.
"I think everybody woke up. I think the incidents, the tragedies, unfortunately pushed us to open up our minds. It's a driving force behind everything we do here at Vale and it is a driving force for the industry as well," he said.
Beyond improving safety, it helped Vale reconsider its wider role too, according to Bartolomeo.
"We need to give back to society, we are a mining company, we extract natural resources, we are only going to be accepted if we share value with society," he said.
Vale plans to invest between $4 billion and $6 billion to reduce emissions by 2030, aiming to cut its direct and indirect carbon emissions by 33%. It plans to hit zero net emissions by 2050.