BHP Billiton and partner Vale to launch external investigation into a dam disaster in Brazil that left 17 dead – by Robb M. Stewart (The Australian – December 22, 2015)

BHP Billiton has pledged to release publicly the findings of a New York-based law firm hired to determine the cause of a catastrophic dam burst at a mine in Brazil last month.

The Australian mining company said it and venture partners Vale SA and Samarco Minerao SA had jointly hired US law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton to launch an external investigation into the cause of a breach of a mine-waste dam and a water dam at the iron-ore operation in Minas Gerais.

BHP said it planned to release the findings and also share the results with other resources companies.

The dam breach on November 5 unleashed an avalanche of mud that destroyed villages, polluted hundreds of miles of rivers, and left an reddish plume in the Atlantic Ocean that was visible from space more than a month later.

BHP said 17 people, including five members of the local community, were confirmed dead and another two people who had been working on the dam remain missing.

BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale each own 50 per cent of Samarco, which the companies say is a limited liability company in charge of the mining operation.

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