BHP, Vale settle Samarco dam disaster lawsuit

BHP, Vale and their joint-owned subsidiary Samarco have reached a compensatory agreement with the Brazilian Government over the 2015 Bento Rodrigues dam disaster.

In November 2015, a tailings dam breach from Samarco’s iron ore mine in Mariana, Brazil caused flooding that led to the deaths of 19 people and the destruction of local communities.

Proceedings against the companies by Brazilian federal prosecutors began in May last year for the purposes of social, environmental and economic compensation.

The companies reached an agreement with the Brazilian Government, the states of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais, and prosecutors to settle an initial $7 billion (or 20 billion Brazilian lira).

In addition, the parties have arranged a framework agreement to suspend a further $55 billion settlement by two years, during which time the parties will attempt to renegotiate the larger settlement.

The Renova Foundation, the body responsible for implementation of clean up and remediation, is also to be restructured in light of the agreements to allow local communities more say in its operation — six of Renova’s seven board members are from BHP, Vale and Samarco.

A revised structure will see three of four additional members appointed from communities affected by the disaster, with another from the public defence office.

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