Judge in Brazil dismisses $5.7 billion lawsuit against Samarco

June 15, 2016

A $US 5.7 billion civil lawsuit seeking environmental and property damages for last year’s deadly Samarco mine disaster has been dismissed by a federal judge in Brazil.

Vale, which owns Samaraco along with BHP Billiton, said the judge did not rule on the merits of the case. A tailings dam burst at the Samarco mine in November and unleashed 60 million cubic metres of mud and mine waste that devastated a village, killed at least 13 people and polluted a major river valley.

The National Humanitarian Society (Sohumana) filed the lawsuit before a federal judge in Rio de Janeiro in December, Reuters reported.

Brazil’s federal and state governments also threatened to sue Samarco and its owners for 20 billion reals in compensation for the disaster and a settlement was reached in March to cover the damages.

Under the agreement, Samarco, BHP and Vale will pay the 20 billion reals over 15 years to cover and repair damages.

Vale, however, has outlined it expects to pay less than that due to the way the deal is structured, calculating future payments depending on how much work remains to be done.

The settlement was approved by a Brazilian judge in May, which potentially reduced the threat of a separate $US44 billion lawsuit filed by federal prosecutors in the states of Minas Gerais, where the mine is located, and neighboring Esprito Santo, who based their claim on the clean-up costs of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.



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