BHP, Vale inch toward Samarco dam spill settlement – by Peter Ker (Australian Financial Review – November 21, 2017)

BHP Billiton and Brazilian miner Vale have inched closer to a settlement over the multibillion-dollar lawsuits that continue to hang over their Samarco joint venture following 2015’s deadly dam disaster.

While a full settlement appears unlikely to be reached before the end of 2017, the miners have at least agreed with Brazilian prosecutors over the pathway toward a more substantial agreement.

It is now 20 months since federal prosecutors in Brazil lobbed a 155 billion real ($63 billion) claim against the Samarco partners over the damage caused by the collapse of a tailings dam at the iron ore business in November 2015.

But that lawsuit, and a separate 7.7 billion real claim lobbed by Brazilian prosecutors, remain suspended under the terms of an “amended agreement” struck this week between the Samarco partners and prosecutors at both state and federal level in Brazil.

The latest agreement will see “socio-economic experts” appointed to advise the prosecutors over what would be an appropriate level of remediation in the communities affected by the disaster, which killed 19 people and destroyed several towns.

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