BHP and Vale have started rebuilding towns affected by the Samarco dam disaster – by Peter Ker (Sydney Morning Herald – May 20, 2016)

BHP Billiton has built numerous towns around Australia over the past 131 years, and now it will turn its hand to building towns in Brazil.

The Australian miner and its partner in the tragic Samarco dam disaster, Vale, is set to rebuild the Brazilian town of Bento Rodrigues at a different location, after the town residents voted to rebuild about 12 kilometres away. Bento was the town worst affected by November’s deadly dam failure, which killed 19 people and swamped Bento under tonnes of mud.

Displaced residents were put into rental accommodation in late 2015, and they voted earlier this month on where their town should be rebuilt.It is believed 95 per cent of the residents voted and 92 per cent of those voted in favour of rebuilding at the new location.

The new location is not in the valley that bore the brunt of the dam spill and is closer to the baroque city of Mariana, where more than 50,000 people live.

Residents of a second affected town, Paracatu de Baixo, will vote on where to rebuild their town later this month.

A third affected town, Barra Longa, is being rebuilt on its original site about 25 kilometres down the river valley from Bento. The Samarco partners struck a compensation and reparation deal with the Brazilian government in March worth 9.2 billion Brazilian real ($3.56 billion), and it was ratified by a Brazilian court on May 5.

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