Brazil’s Samarco iron ore mine is unlikely to resume production by the end of this year following the disastrous tailings dam burst last year.
The incident claimed 19 lives, flooding rivers and villages in the Minas Gerias and Espirito Santo states, and even reaching the Atlantic Ocean.
The miner, a joint venture between BHP and Vale, expected to restart operations by the fourth quarter of this year but it now remains uncertain.
The company’s head of human resources Benedito Waldson said the uncertainty of receiving the necessary licences from the country’s environment authorities has caused them to move to lay off more than 1000 workers, according to Reuters.
The operation produced 30 million tonnes of iron ore prior to the disaster, supplying approximately 20 per cent of the world’s annual supply of iron ore pellets. The company said that if it resumes, it will have a reduced rate of 19 million tonnes per year.
This new decision comes on the back of a Brazilian judge dismissing the National Humanitarian Society’s civil lawsuit seeking property and environmental damages against the operation for the spill.
BHP and Vale were also hit with other lawsuits, including a recent settlement forcing them to pay a minimum of $US1.7 billion over six years to restore local communities and the environment; providing compensation where remediation isn’t possible.