BHP, Vale given extension to settle Brazil mine disaster claim

Sydney (AFP) –


Mining giant BHP said Monday it had been granted more time by a Brazilian court to negotiate with authorities on settling a large claim over the Samarco mine collapse that left 19 people dead.

Samarco, co-owned by BHP and Brazilian mining giant Vale, is facing a 155 billion reals (US$45.4 billion) legal claim for clean-up costs and damages after the November 2015 collapse of an iron ore tailings dam in the Minas Gerais region.

Brazilian federal prosecutors commenced proceedings in court for the settlement, and later agreed to work with the two miners to reach an agreement.

The negotiation period has been extended several times, with the due date now on June 25, BHP said.

"The 12th Federal Court in Brazil has approved an additional 66 days... to continue discussions on the negotiation of the framework for the settlement of the Public Civil Claims related to the Samarco dam failure," the Anglo-Australian firm said in a statement.

BHP said in February when reporting its half-year profits for the six months to December 31 that it had recorded a charge of US$210 million from the collapse.

The company added that "significant progress" had been made on social and environmental recovery programmes after the dam failure.

The dam burst unleashed a tsunami of toxic waste and buried a nearby village, and is one of Brazil's worst environmental disasters.