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BHP Billiton reaches settlement deal with Brazilian authorities over 2015 dam disaster

In November 2015, two dams built and owned by BHP’s Samarco joint venture burst, releasing a slurry of toxic mine waste into nearby rivers and flooding villages

samarco brazil
The disaster killed 19 people, relatives of whom can now start to receive some compensation

BHP Billiton PLC (LON:BLT) and its joint venture partner Vale have reached a final compensation deal with Brazilian prosecutors over a 2015 dam burst.

The settlement means compensation payments to relatives of the 19 people who died in the disaster can begin, almost three years after the incident.

READ: BHP Billiton served with a class action in Australia over Samarco dam failure

The hundreds of others who lost homes and other properties will also start to receive their compensation. No financial details of the deal were given.

Brazil’s worst ever environmental catastrophe happened when two dams designed to hold back mine waste from the Samarco iron pellets operation in Mariana, eastern Brazil collapsed.

It left a trail of destruction for hundreds of kilometres in the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo.

Toxic mining waste polluted rivers and beaches while villages were flooded, forcing hundreds to flee their homes.

The settlement means that BHP and Vale might be able to prepare to resume operations in the region and Vale has said that it hoped to re-open the mine later this year or early next, although it has pushed forecasts back several times.

READ: BHP to pay US$211mln to foundation tasked with Samarco disaster rehabilitation

BHP shares were down 0.6% to 1,689p.

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