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24 Jan 2020

Marta Nogueira & Christian Plumb, Reuters

Brazil prosecutors threaten to revive $37 billion lawsuit over Samarco delays: source

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16 January 2020

Brazil's federal prosecutors' office has threatened to revive a 155 billion reais ($37 billion) lawsuit against Vale SA and BHP Group, citing delays in helping survivors of a deadly dam burst at their Samarco joint venture....


Samarco had committed to retaining advisory groups in November 2017 as part of a partial settlement signed with authorities that allowed the suspension of the lawsuit.

Vale and BHP have so far hired advisers for five of the disaster-hit towns.... Federal prosecutors had set a November 2019 deadline for advisers to be hired for all of the 41 towns impacted, the source said.


The activities to be carried out by the promised technical advisers include both monitoring the implementation of victims' relief programs and providing technical and legal support to those affected.


"Vale is not opposed to hiring technical advice for those affected," said the Brazilian mining company in a statement, acknowledging the advisers' importance in compensating for the damage caused by the accident.

Following the settlement agreement, the survivors themselves defined a list of 18 companies that could perform the services. Under the terms of the settlement, Samarco is required to hire all of them.

According to Vale, 16 of those listed submitted proposals in October but they remain under review "due to the complexity of the proposed scope and the corresponding costs."

BHP said the proposals added up to a cost of 630 million reais and that it was also evaluating them.