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25 Apr 2020

Law 360

UK: Court to decide if Samarco can be sued for $5 billion in England for dam's collapse in Brazil

"Pandemic Delays $5B Claim Over BHP Brazilian Dam Failure", 21 Apr 2020

A British judge has delayed the start of a legal fight, set to decide if the world’s largest mining company can be sued in England for $5 billion over the collapse of a dam in Brazil, due to travel restrictions imposed to halt the coronavirus pandemic...

The British-Australian company is being sued by more than 200,000 Brazilians, companies and local towns following the collapse of a dam at a mine in 2015 that killed more than a dozen and caused the country’s worst ever economic disaster.

The claim, thought to be one of the largest in the U.K.’s history, accuses the company of taking no action to stop the dam’s collapse at the Samarco iron ore mine, despite knowing about the risks. Samarco is owned by BHP and the Brazilian company Vale.

The dam failure unleashed millions of cubic meters of waste material and toxic mud that destroyed one village and polluted a nearby river. The sludge traveled hundreds of miles to the Atlantic Ocean, killing wildlife and tainting local drinking water, according to court documents...