Brazil to seek $5.2bn in damages from BHP Billiton and Vale over tailings dam disaster

29 November 2015 (Last Updated November 29th, 2015 18:30)

The Brazilian Federal Government and some state governments are planning to sue BHP Billiton and Vale, the owners of Samarco, claiming R$20bn ($5.2bn) in damages following the tailings dam disaster.

The Brazilian Federal Government and some state governments are planning to sue BHP Billiton and Vale, the owners of Samarco, claiming R$20bn ($5.2bn) in damages following the tailings dam disaster.

Brazil Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams said that the proceeds received will be set-up as a fund and used for environmental cleanup in the Rio Doce river.

On 5 November 2015, the Fundao dam ruptured at Samarco's Germano mining site near the town of Mariana in Minas Gerais and killed a reported 17 people.

Vale and BHP have now announced to set up a voluntary, non-profit fund to support the recovery of the Rio Doce river system.

"The immediate focus for Samarco has been securing the safety of the operations and supporting the humanitarian and environmental response."

Initially, both the companies would sponsor the fund in a bid to seek additional financial support from other private, public and non-government organisations.

BHP said that the actions to recover the Rio Doce river system will include the recomposition of riparian forest and water quality, as well as aquatic fauna.

Vale CEO Murilo Ferreira and BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie jointly said: "The immediate focus for Samarco has been securing the safety of the operations and supporting the humanitarian and environmental response.

"The fund would focus on supporting the remediation of the river as part of the commitment of Vale, BHP Billiton and Samarco to the aquatic environment following the release of the tailings into the Doce basin."

Samarco has already agreed to pay $260m in compensation for tailings dam cleanup recently.

The company said it will ensure that water is supplied in affected areas, and will assess water quality in the Rio Doce basin.