BHP Billiton and Vale have announced plans to appeal against a decision by Brazilian courts to restore a R$20bn ($6bn) public civil claim from authorities over the Samarco iron ore mine disaster in November last year.

A tailings dam burst at Samarco’s Germano mining site near the town of Mariana in Minas Gerais, reportedly killing at least 17 people and injuring more than 50.

The Fundao dam is located near the Gualaxo do Norte river. It burst in the mining region between Ouro Preto and Mariana.

In March, Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton Brasil signed an agreement with the Federal Government of Brazil, the states of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais and certain other public authorities to settle the claim with payments for 15 years.

"It burst in the mining region between Ouro Preto and Mariana."

The agreement outlines restoration of the environment and communities affected by the dam failure and suspension of the claim by Brazilian authorities against Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton Brasil.

The agreement was subject to ratification by the courts in Brazil, which was then made by the Federal Court of Appeal in Brazil on 5 May.

The office of Federal Prosecutors appealed against ratification of the agreement and the Superior Court of Justice in Brazil issued an interim order in June, suspending the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to ratify the agreement.

BHP Billiton proposes to appeal the decision of the Superior Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, Samarco said it will continue to support the long-term recovery of communities and environment impacted by the burst dam.