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28 Jun 2018

David Chau, ABC (Australia)

Brazil: BHP signs deal with govt. to suspend $55 billion Samarco lawsuit; companies currently in talks with govt. to re-open mine

"BHP signs deal to suspend $55 billion Samarco lawsuit for two years", 26 June 2018

Samarco and its owners BHP and Vale have signed a deal for the Brazilian government to drop a $7 billion civil lawsuit against the mining companies over a 2015 disaster at the Samarco iron ore mine.

...The disaster saw a dam burst, which unleashed millions of tonnes of muddy, toxic...resulted in 19 deaths, the destruction of several small communities, and widespread environmental damage....

...In return, BHP and the other parties have also agreed to give the local community a bigger say in running the Renova Foundation — a relief program...to administer clean-up costs, remediation and compensation. Renova is overwhelmingly represented by BHP and Vale, which appointed six out of its seven board members. Two additional members will join the board under this deal, and will be selected by the community.

..."The signing of this agreement is a good step forward," BHP chief external affairs officer Geoff Healy said.

"It settles the 20 billion real ($7 billion) claim brought by the [Brazilian] federal and state government completely, and that is now terminated.

"We have a framework that brings all of the parties together, where we can work toward improving and refining the remediation and compensation process."

...The companies are currently in talks with Brazilian government authorities to obtain the necessary environmental licences and re-open the mine.