Brazilian police have charged six executives and one contractor from Samarco due to a dam collapse at the company’s iron ore mine in November 2015, which reportedly killed at least 17 people.
Samarco is jointly owned by Vale and BHP Billiton. Among the accused was Samarco’s chief executive Ricardo Vescovi.
Accusing the executives of qualified homicide murder charge, the police said that the burst occurred as the dam was over-filled and not monitored properly.
The report submitted by police concluded that rupture was also caused due by faulty equipment at the mine site.
Homicide convictions in Brazil can result in sentences of 12 to 30 years in prison.
The Fundao tailings dam that burst at the company’s Germano mining site near the town of Mariana in Minas Gerais also injured more than 50 people.
The dam is located close to the Gualaxo do Norte river and contained tailings, a mining waste product of metal filings in the water.
It caused a mudslide into the town of Bento Rodrigues, destroying dozens of homes.
The incident is considered one of Brazil’s worst environmental disasters and released .
Reuters quoted Samarco saying in a statement that it considers the accusations ‘misguided’ and will take suitable action after a court decision is announced.
Samarco is still investigating the incident to determine the cause.