Samarco Restoration 'not on track'Published by MAC on 2020-10-08
Source: Reuters, Mining-technology.com
Brazil considers reopening $27.4bn civil action lawsuit against Vale, BHP
2 October 2020
Federal and state prosecutors in Brazil are seeking to reopen a multi-billion dollar civil action lawsuit against mining companies Samarco, Vale and BHP.
The lawsuit is with respect to the damages related to the Fundao dam collapse that claimed many lives in 2015, Reuters reported citing local authorities.
The burst dam devastated the nearby town with mudslides that destroyed dozens of homes.
This incident at Samarco’s Mariana facilities, a joint venture (JV) between iron ore firms Vale in Brazil and Australia-based BHP Billiton, was Brazil’s biggest environmental disaster.
According to the news agency, the claim is for damages of R$155bn ($27.4bn).
The lawsuit had been suspended in 2018 after prosecutors and the miners reached an agreement. However, state prosecutors now contend that the firms are not meeting their obligations in a ‘timely fashion’.
Last year, another mining dam owned by Vale burst in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Known as the Brumadinho mining disaster, the incident occurred on 25 January 2019 when a dam located near the Córrego do Feijão iron mine collapsed, causing a mudslide to hit the town of Brumadinho.
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The Brumadinho disaster claimed lives of at least 270 people.
In July, a Brazilian court ordered Vale to pay R$7.9bn ($1.47bn) in guarantees, with respect to Brumadinho tailings dam damage.
Since the start of 2019, iron ore production in Brazil has suffered due to the Brumadinho tailings dam disaster, weather-related conditions and the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, Brazil’s overall iron ore output was 404.9Mt.
In a separate development, Vale said that 33 of its 104 dam structures in Brazil had failed to receive positive stability assessments.
UN report finds Samarco dam restoration 'not on track'
September 17, 2020
None of 42 projects to repair damage from the 2015 collapse of a Brazilian dam is on track, according to a United Nations expert report published shortly before mining giant BHP hears if it will be pursued through English courts over the disaster.
UN Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak alleged mining companies had failed to provide effective reparations since Brazil's worst environmental disaster decimated the livelihoods of more than 3 million people.
"Today, none of 42 projects are on track," he said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council published on Wednesday, UK time.
Crosses remember the dead of the Samarco dam disaster in the now deserted village of Bento Rodrigues, Brazil.
The collapse of the Fundao dam, which stored mining waste and is owned by the Samarco joint venture between BHP and Brazilian iron ore mining giant Vale, killed 19 people and poured roughly 40 million cubic metres of mining waste into communities, the Rio Doce River and the Atlantic Ocean, 650 km away.
Vale and Anglo-Australian BHP, the world's largest miner by market value, did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
BHP has said the Renova Foundation, a redress scheme established in 2016 by its Brazilian division, Samarco and Vale, has spent about £1.3 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) on projects such as financial aid to indigenous Krenak families, rebuilding villages and establishing new water supply systems.
But Tuncak alleged the "true purpose" of Renova appeared to "limit liability of BHP and Vale" and called for its governance structure to be reformed.
Renova said it had a robust governance model and that its 42 restoration program had various timelines. Resettlement works were in progress, a great part of indemnities paid and water quality monitoring and environmental repair projects were on schedule, it said.
More than 200,000 Brazilian people and groups launched a £5 billion lawsuit against BHP in England in July over the dam failure, alleging compensation had been slow and inadequate.
BHP said it would be wasteful and pointless to hear the case in England, alleging it duplicated Brazilian proceedings and that victims were already receiving redress.
A judge is expected to decide this month whether the record group claim can go ahead.