BHP confirms: Brazil will sue over Samarco mine disaster

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Image credit: Vale Agency

Mining giant BHP Billiton has confirmed that Brazil plans to sue the mining company and its partner Vale for $7.2 billion dollars over the Samarco mine disaster.

Image credit: Vale Agency
Image credit: Vale Agency

The federal and state governments of Brazil announced yesterday that they plan to sue Samarco’s co-owners BHP and Vale for damages caused by the dam burst.

In a news release issued yesterday, BHP said that it is yet to receive formal notice of legal action.

“The Brazilian Federal Government and certain State governments have announced that, on 30 November 2015, they intend to commence legal proceedings against Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton for clean-up costs and damages. The announcement indicates that the legal action will demand that the companies establish a fund of BRL 20 billion in aggregate (approximately US$5.2 billion at current exchange rates) for environmental recovery and compensation. BHP Billiton has not received formal notice of the action at this stage,” BHP said.

Last week, the two companies said that they will set up a non-profit fund to help authorities clean up the area and the affected rivers.

“Vale and BHP Billiton are committed to supporting the rehabilitation of those areas of the Rio Doce system impacted by the recent tragedy. The immediate focus for Samarco has been securing the safety of the operations and supporting the humanitarian and environmental response. Plans must also be made for the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected environment,” said Murilo Ferreira, CEO of Vale, and Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of BHP Billiton, in the joint statement.

“The Fund would focus on supporting the remediation of the river as part of the commitment of Vale, BHP Billiton and Samarco to the aquatic environment following the release of the tailings into the Doce basin. We see this Fund as part of a positive contribution to the people of Brazil, who owe much to this river system.”

According to the latest update by the world’s biggest miner, 13 people were killed and six went missing after two waste dams burst and flooded the nearby villages earlier this month.