BHP update on Samarco dam disaster

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Image credit: Vale Agency

Mining giant BHP Billiton has issued further information about the incident at the Samarco Mineração S.A (Samarco) iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which occurred on Thursday, 5 November 2015.

Image credit: Vale Agency
Image credit: Vale Agency

According to initial reports, two dams collapsed at the Brazilian mine, killing 17 people and devastating the villages near the mine. Dozens of people have been reported missing.

BHP has issued an update on the incident, stating that it is has offered its full support to help the immediate rescue efforts and to assist with the investigation. Samarco Mineração is a joint venture between BHP Billiton and Vale.

“The Samarco operations include a three tiered tailings dam complex. Within this complex, the Fundão dam failed and the downstream Santarém dam has been affected. This resulted in a significant release of mine tailings, flooding the community of Bento Rodrigues and impacting other communities downstream. The third dam in the complex, the Germano dam, is being monitored by Samarco. At this time, there is no confirmation of the causes of the tailings release,” BHP said in a media release to Australian Manufacturing.

“BHP Billiton’s immediate priority is the welfare of the Samarco workforce and the local communities. Details are still emerging in relation to the Samarco employees and contractors impacted by the incident. At this stage, Samarco has advised that there is at least one confirmed fatality with a further 13 members of the workforce missing. The number of people in the communities impacted by the incident is yet to be confirmed, but the local authorities have reported that, at this stage there are at least 15 people from the communities unaccounted for.”

BHP Billiton’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie is scheduled to go to Brazil this week to assess the situation first-hand.