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1 Apr 2022

Kirstin Ridley, Reuters

UK: Court of Appeal to hear £5 billion lawsuit by 200 000 Brazilians over Fundão dam collapse

"BHP prepares for fresh battle against $6.6 bln Brazil dam lawsuit", 31 Mar 2022

Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP is preparing to battle a resurrected 5 billion pound ($6.6 billion) lawsuit in London's Court of Appeal next week, launched by around 200,000 Brazilians over a devastating dam failure in 2015.

The claim, one of the largest in English legal history, seeks to hold BHP to account for the disaster in English courts...

The collapse of the Fundao dam, owned by the Samarco venture between BHP and Brazilian iron ore mining giant Vale VALE3.SA, ranks as Brazil's worst environmental disaster.

Nineteen were killed and villages obliterated as a torrent of more than 40 million cubic metres of mining waste swept into the Doce river and Atlantic Ocean over 650 km (400 miles) away...

BHP, the world's largest mining company by market value, has labelled the case pointless and wasteful, saying it duplicates proceedings in Brazil and the work of the Renova Foundation, an entity created by the company and its Brazilian partners to manage reparations and repairs.

The company says it is fully committed to "doing the right thing" and has paid nearly 9 billion reais ($1.89 billion) in compensation and direct financial aid to over 360,000 people and will have spent roughly 30 billion reais on reparation and compensation programmes by year-end.

Claimant lawyers argue that most clients have not brought proceedings in Brazil or sought compensation that excludes them from English proceedings and that Brazilian litigation is so lengthy it cannot provide full redress in a realistic timeframe...

The five-day hearing, which begins on Monday [4 April 2022], will help establish whether the case can be heard in Britain, although the judgment is expected to be reserved - and the case could be appealed to the Supreme Court...