London’s High Court in the UK has delayed a trial against mining giant BHP over the 2015 Fundao iron ore tailings dam disaster in Brazil to 7 October 2024.

The trial was originally scheduled to begin on 9 April 2024 but has now been postponed by six months.

While setting the new trial date, Judge O’Farrell noted: “That will give the parties a more relaxed, achievable timetable and will provide time for Vale and others to participate if necessary.”

BHP faces a $44bn compensation claim over the incident, with its claimant count spiking by 500,000 in March this year.

Around 720,000 Brazilians have filed a lawsuit against the miner over the dam collapse, which is called the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history.

British law firm Pogust Goodhead is representing the claimants.

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By GlobalData

The lawsuit was rejected in 2020 by the High Court for being an ‘abuse of process’.

However, the UK Court of Appeal overturned the decision in July 2022, ruling that the case could move ahead.

The collapse of the Fundao dam, which was owned by the Samarco joint venture between BHP and Vale, led to the deaths of 19 people.

The incident released more than 40 million cubic metres of toxic mining waste into the Doce River and Atlantic Ocean, as well as destroyed villages.

BHP had previously called for the participation of Brazilian miner Vale in the case and wanted the trial to be postponed until at least June 2025 for preparing its defence.

On its part, the miner continues to dismiss the claims, saying it “denies the claims brought in the UK in their entirety and will continue to defend the case”.

According to the miner, the claims duplicate the efforts of the Renova Foundation, an entity set up for reparation of the damages caused by the disaster.

Renova Foundation is said to have so far provided $6bn in reparation.