BHP awaits court freeze order on Brazil assets over mine disaster – by James Regan (Reuters U.S. – December 21, 2015)

SYDNEY – BHP Billiton BLT.L – has not received formal notification that its assets in Brazil have been frozen, a company spokesman said Monday, three days after a court ruled to hold the assets as compensation for the Samarco mining disaster.

“We have yet to receive any formal notification,” BHP Billiton’s Paul Hutchins said by telephone from the company’s Melbourne headquarters. “We hope to have an update tomorrow.”

A judge in Brazil’s state of Minais Gerais on Friday froze the Brazilian assets of BHP and domestic miner Vale SA after ruling their Samarco joint venture was unable to pay for damages following a dam collapse last month at Samarco’s iron ore mine in the state. The disaster killed 16 people, left hundreds homeless, and polluted a nearby river.

Vale said on Sunday it would appeal the court decision, labeling the ruling declaring the two mining companies responsible for the disaster as “inappropriate.”

Vale also said it had yet to be officially notified of the decision, which was issued late Friday, but understood the ruling banned it from extracting iron ore. It did not prohibit it from performing other activities such as iron ore concentration, transportation or sales, according to Vale.

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