Wednesday 15th Aug, 2018

BHP gets more time to settle Samarco claims

Bento Rodrigues after Samarco disaster Photo Anonio Cruz Agencia Brasil Creative Commons
Bento Rodrigues after Samarco disaster. Photo: Anonio Cruz / Agencia Brasil / Creative Commons

A Brazilian court has granted BHP and Vale additional time to negotiate the settlement of a pair of multi-billion-dollar public claims following a deadly tailings dam collapse in 2015.

The joint venture partners are facing a US$6.1 billion claim and a separate US$47.6 billion claim in relation to the collapse of a tailings dam at the Samarco mine in Brazil in late 2015, which killed at least 17 people, and resulted in significant environmental damage.

BHP and Vale were granted an additional 150 days by the Brazilian court last November to settle those claims before they would be fully addressed in court.

According to an Associated Press report, the sides have now been granted another 50 days.

BHP and Vale last year announced a deal to provide support for social and environmental programs in the wake of the disaster, with roughly US$670 million in interim commitments made to the Brazilian Government.

A geotechnical assessment of the tailings dam collapse in 2016 found a series of design issues and drainage problems contributed to the disaster.

The collapse triggered a significant landslide, engulfing the village of Bento Rodrigues, where the majority of deaths and injuries occurred.

Roughly 60 million cubic metres of iron ore tailings flowed into the nearby Rio Doce, causing pollution which impacted several communities along the river.

The muddy pollution reached the mouth of the Rio Doce 17 days after the incident, dumping tailings into the Atlantic Ocean.

Operations remain suspended at the Samarco mine.