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20 Mär 2017

Paul Kiernan, Dow Jones

Brazil: Judge suspends lawsuit against BHP Billiton & Vale over dam disaster following settlement agreement with govt.

"Brazil dam disaster lawsuit against BHP Billiton, Vale, suspended", 17 Mar 2017

A Brazilian judge has suspended a nearly $US50 billion...lawsuit against the mining firms responsible for the 2015 Samarco tailings dam disaster, as negotiations between the companies and authorities moved forward.  The decision came as part of a ruling in which federal judge Mário de Paula Franco Júnior approved a road map toward a final agreement between prosecutors and mining companies BHP Billiton (BHP), Vale, and their joint-venture Samarco Mineração.  Brazil’s government, which brought the lawsuit, was not immediately available for comment but in the past has indicated its main concern was reaching a settlement and safely restarting the mine...[T]he partial agreement ratified today called for three different groups of experts — two appointed by the court, one by the companies — to come up with studies...and evaluate the recovery programs under way...Vale chief executive Murilo Ferreira recently said he expected Samarco to resume operations...this year...BHP, Vale and Samarco agreed in January with Brazilian prosecutors on a June 30 deadline to...consolidate and settle separate claims, the biggest of which is the civil claim brought by federal prosecutors last year and suspended today. [subscription only]