BHP and Vale square off in London court – by Cecilia Jamasmie ( – July 12, 2023)

BHP (ASX: BHP) and Vale (NYSE: VALE) faced off in a London court on Wednesday as part of one of the largest class action lawsuits in history, which could see them fined £36 billion ($44bn) for their role in a mining disaster in Brazil that killed 19 people.

The case, brought to trial by around 720,000 Brazilians, centres on who should accept legal and financial responsibility over the deadly 2015 collapse of a dam. The incident at the iron ore mine, owned by BHP and Vale’s joint venture Samarco, became the country’s worst ever environmental disaster.

Brazilian federal prosecutors had claimed both miners failed to take actions that could have prevented the disaster. But the companies have repeatedly said they were not responsible for the dam’s collapse, that they complied with Brazilian law and that safety was always a key concern.

The lawsuit, one of the largest in English legal history, began in 2018, but was thrown out of court two years later. A Court of Appeal ruled in July 2022 that it could proceed.

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