UK: BHP faces £5bn lawsuit over Samarco dam collapse


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22 November 2018

BHP prepares for UK legal battle over 2015 Brazil dam failure

Author: Kirstin Ridley, Barbara Lewis, Reuters

Mining giant BHP says it will fight an unprecedented English lawsuit filed by hundreds of thousands of Brazilians for multi-billion pound damages over Brazil’s worst environmental disaster...It looks set to be the largest group action heard in England...

“BHP will defend the action and remains committed to supporting the remediation and compensation efforts of the Renova Foundation,” a spokesman said...

SPG says it is working with 600 lawyers and law firms in Brazil and is bringing the case in England in part because a 200 pound ($259) settlement offer two years ago by the Renova Foundation to those who had their water disrupted was “inadequate”.  It wants to bring the case against BHP and subsidiaries in Brazil, the United States and Panama using Brazil’s tough environmental law, that can hold companies liable for repairing damage or compensating victims irrespective of fault or intent.  “The key issue at the heart of this case is whether the parent company, BHP, is liable as a matter of Brazilian law,” says SPG lawyer Tom Goodhead...

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19 November 2018

Vale & BHP Billiton ask 39 Brazilian municipalities to withdraw lawsuits over Samarco dam collapse; propose settlement

Author: Lise Alves, The Rio Times

"Samarco Offers Millions to Brazil to Drop Dam-Break Lawsuits", 16 Nov 2018

Thirty-nine municipalities in the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo have been offered R$53 million to withdraw lawsuits against Samarco and its main shareholders, Brazil’s Vale and Anglo-Australian giant BHP Billiton, including those filed in the United Kingdom, according to government news agency Agencia Brasil...The Renova Foundation, is the entity created by Vale, BHP Billiton and Samarco to manage the payment and repair of all damages caused in the Rio Doce Basin, after the Samarco dam break in 2015....“A lot of people were indirectly affected [by the spill] and no one is taking responsibility. “The entire population depends on the city’s public services which has also been affected,” stated Mariana’s mayor Duarte Junior to reporters covering the third anniversary of the disaster last week...

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6 November 2018

BHP Billiton facing £5bn lawsuit from Brazilian victims of dam disaster

Author: Jonathan Watts, The Guardian

The worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history has triggered one of the biggest legal claims ever filed in a British court.  The Anglo-Australian mining company BHP Billiton is being sued for about £5bn by Brazilian victims of the Samarco dam collapse in Mariana three years ago.  The class action case was filed in the Liverpool high court...on behalf of 240,000 individuals, 24 municipal governments, 11,000 businesses, a Catholic archdiocese and about 200 members of the Krenak indigenous community...

It emerged that the company had accurately predicted the risks in a worst-case assessment made six months earlier.  Prosecutors charged senior executives of the dam operator Samarco Mineração with homicide and accused its parent companies – Vale and BHP Billiton – of environment damage.  A civil case has been filed in Brazilian courts, but the plaintiffs believe they have more chance to get fair and speedy compensation in Britain...

If jurisdiction in the UK is accepted, the lawsuit is likely to raise the international profile of the case.  The first hearing would be next summer and the case could last two to five years.  Representatives from the affected communities will be called to testify in Liverpool along with expert witnesses...

BHP Billiton has yet to respond to a request for a comment, but in previous statements to the Guardian, Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton said they rejected the charges...

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5 November 2018

BHP Facing Multibillion-Pound Class Action Over Samarco Disaster

Author: Morningstar

Mining giant BHP Billiton PLC is facing a multibillion-pound lawsuit over the Samarco dam catastrophe in Brazil in one of the largest claims in British legal history... The class action, which is being handled by SPG Law, counts more than 240,000 claimants... In 2015, BHP's Samarco iron-ore mine in the Minas Gerais state in south eastern Brazil saw a dam collapse, killing 19 people and displacing 700...A torrent of mud unleashed by the burst also wiped out a small village, Bento Rodrigues, and contaminated the Atlantic Ocean...

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