A federal judge in Brazil has ordered mining giants BHP, Vale and their Samarco iron ore joint venture to pay 47.6bn reais ($9.67bn) in damages over a deadly dam burst in 2015.
The collapse of the Fundão dam in the south-east of the country caused a giant mudslide that killed 19 people. It also severely polluted the Rio Doce river, compromising the waterway to its outlet in the Atlantic Ocean. It was not immediately clear how much each company is required to pay.
Judge Vinicius Cobucci said the companies were liable for “moral damages”, or non-material harm, such as emotional distress suffered by those affected by the incident. He added that the money, which will be adjusted for inflation since 2015, will be put into a state fund and used for projects and initiatives in the area impacted by the dam collapse.
The ruling came in response to a civil action brought by state and federal public prosecutors. Vale told the BBC that it had not yet been informed about the ruling. The company also said that as of December last year, the Renova Foundation, which the firms have been using to make compensation payments, has so far paid out 34.7bn reais.
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