BHP and Vale ready to “redouble commitment” to families affected by the Samarco disaster

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Image credit: Vale Agency

BHP Billiton and Vale CEO’s Andrew Mackenzie and Murilo Ferreira visited the Samarco mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, where an accident caused by the collapse of two dams claimed the lives of 17 people, with dozens others reported injured or missing.

Image credit: Vale Agency
Image credit: Vale Agency

The accident occurred on 5 November when the dam that held waste water from the Samarco iron ore mine collapsed and devastated villages located near the mine.

The two CEO’s spent the day at the mine with CEO Ricardo Vescovi De Aragão and the community leaders, where they discussed the future steps to help the families and the communities affected by the accident.

“Our immediate priority is to understand the full extent of the consequences of the tailings dam breach and how we can provide further help. We visited the tailings dam complex, including the site of the failed Fundão dam and affected downstream Santarém dam as well as the Germano dam which is being closely-monitored by Samarco,” the two companies said in a joint statement.

“We also met with the Samarco incident response teams and civil authorities who have worked tirelessly to evacuate the local community and search for missing people. On behalf of all of the employees of Vale and BHP Billiton, we offer our profound sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of the people who died as a result of this tragic incident. We are deeply concerned for the welfare of the employees, contractors and members of the local community who are still missing. Our thoughts are with you all in this distressing and uncertain time.”

The two mining giants assured that they will redouble their commitment to Samarco to support the response effort.

“As an immediate step, Vale and BHP Billiton pledge to support Samarco in creating an Emergency Fund for rebuilding works and to help the affected families and communities. It is our intention to work with the authorities to get this fund functioning as soon as practicable,” reads the media statement.

“Vale and BHP Billiton also have health, safety, environment and geotechnical experts onsite supporting Samarco’s response. We have also had discussions with Samarco and authorities about the additional support we can provide. Investigations are continuing and Samarco will provide further updates relating to the response and operations.”