BHP, Vale joint venture boss in Brazil ‘environmental crime’ probe – by Daniel Palmer (The Australian – July 14, 2016)

BHP Billiton has confirmed operations at its troubled Samarco iron ore joint venture will likely not restart this year.

The miner, which controls Samarco with Brazil’s Vale, said the process of receiving regulatory approval for a restart of operations would take an extended period in the wake of last November’s tragic tailings dam collapse. “Samarco has confirmed it is unlikely to have in place the necessary approvals to restart its operations in this calendar year,” BHP said in a statement.

“Samarco makes an important contribution to the national economy and the livelihoods of thousands of people but Samarco’s operations will restart only when it is safe to do so, and when all regulatory approvals are granted and accepted by the relevant authorities and communities.”

The miner said discussions with Samarco employees were underway as it looked to cut the workforce in light of the lack of production, with about 40 per cent of the workforce expected to accept voluntary redundancies.

The news came in a broad update on the Samarco operations, with BHP’s chief commercial officer Dean Dalla Valle saying the firm remained strong in its belief a framework agreement agreed in March was the best way forward despite legal cases threatening to derail that plan and raise BHP’s recovery costs.

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