BHP Billiton & Vale lawsuit (re dam collapse in Brazil)

Brazil dams disaster_credit_Antonio Cruz Agencia Brasil_http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/en/geral/noticia/2015-11/another-body-engulfed-mud-found-minas-gerais

On 5 November 2015, two mining dams operated by Samarco Mineração SA, a joint venture of Vale and BHP Billiton, collapsed in Brazil releasing 50 million cubic meters of toxic iron-ore residue.  The residue destroyed the nearby town of Bento Rodrigues killing 19 and polluting the water supply of hundreds of thousands of residents.  Two weeks later, Samarco signed a $262 million agreement with the Brazilian Government to fund mitigation and remedial measures for the environmental disaster. 

On 2 March 2016, Samarco reached a heavily criticized $6 billion settlement to restore the severely damaged environment and indemnify the affected communities.  Andrew Mackenzie, CEO Of BHP Billiton stated, “This agreement is an important step in supporting the long-term recovery of the affected communities and the environment.”  However, Brazilian prosecutors insisted the deal did not guarantee proper cleanup and damages because the affected populations were not included in settlement talks.  On 3 May 2016, the prosecutors filed a $44 billion civil lawsuit in Brazil for cleanup and restoration costs. 

On 20 October, Brazilian federal prosecutors filed homicide charges against 21 people, including top executives of BHP Billiton, Vale and Samarco, for the 19 deaths resulting from the dam collapse. 

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

Article
+ Português - Hide

Author: Heloísa Mendonça, El Pais (Brazil)

“Uma denúncia para cobrar punição pelos mortos no desastre de Mariana-Procuradores pedem à Justiça que executivos da Samarco, Vale e BHP respondam por homicídio-Ministério Público quer que empresas sejam julgadas também por 12 tipos de crime ambiental”, 22 de outubro de 2016

Quase um ano após o desastre de Mariana (MG), o Ministério Público Federal de Minas Gerais denunciou 21 pessoas da mineradora Samarco e integrantes das empresas Vale e BHP Billiton, controladoras da companhia, por homicídio qualificado com dolo eventual (quando se assume o risco de matar) pelo rompimento da Barragem de Fundão, que deixou 19 mortos. Entre os denunciados estão o ex-presidente da Samarco, Ricardo Vescovi,...o diretor de operação e infra-estrutura da mineradora, Kleber Terra, três gerentes da mineradora, onze integrantes do Conselho de Administração da empresa e cinco representantes das controladoras da Samarco, Vale e BHP Billiton...suspeitos também dos crimes de inundação, desabamento e lesões corporais graves...[F]oram denunciad[os]...por crimes ambientais, os mesmos que são imputados às empresas Samarco, Vale e BHP Billiton...[M]aior tragédia ambiental...brasileira...deixou 19 mortos..., centenas de desabrigados e um rastro de destruição que se estendeu por 650 quilômetros até o litoral, danificando a Mata Atlântica e a bacia do Rio Doce...Até hoje, o rejeito de mineração continua sendo despejado na bacia do Rio Doce, afetando a vida de ribeirinhos...

Read the full post here

Article
24 October 2016

Brazil: Federal Prosecutors file homicide charges against 21 people in connection with Doce River socioenvironmental disaster; Samarco, Vale and BHP refute charges

Author: Paul Kiernan, The Wall Street Journal (US)

“Brazil Charges 21 People With Homicide in Samarco Mining Dam Collapse-Current and former officials from Vale SA and BHP Billiton and joint venture Samarco Mineração named”, 20 October 2016

...Brazilian federal prosecutors filed homicide charges...[on 20 October]...against 21 people in connection with a catastrophic collapse of a mining dam last year that killed 19 people...[, including]...top executives of...Vale...[,]...BHP Billiton...[and]...Samarco...[as]...former Samarco Chief Executive Ricardo Vescovi, Vale’s current iron-ore director Peter Poppinga,...eight Vale and BHP representatives at Samarco...[C]harges mark the end of a nearly yearlong criminal investigation into...failure of Samarco’s Fundão tailings dam in...Brazil. Believed to be the biggest disaster of its kind anywhere...[and that]…released a torrent of sludge that washed away villages, displaced hundreds of people and traveled more than 400 miles through southeast Brazil’s Rio Doce basin before reaching the...[o]cean...[T]he river is still tainted a rusty red from sediment...Additional charges...include...crimes of causing a flood, landslide and grave bodily harm. Vale, BHP and Samarco were also charged with 12 different kinds of environmental crimes. Employees of a consulting firm that performed periodic checkups...were charged with presenting false stability reports...Samarco...BHP Billiton...[and]...Vale...[refute the charges]...[They]...apologized for the disaster and committed to a full remediation of the damage....Brazilian courts rejected a March settlement signed by the companies and the government. Prosecutors are seeking to replace it with a civil lawsuit filed in May...

Read the full post here

Article
14 July 2016

BHP unlikely to reopen Samarco this year amid Brazil's criminal probe

Author: Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.com

Mining giant BHP Billiton  said...production at its Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil...is unlikely to resume before the end of the year.The news comes as Brazil’s federal prosecutors opened...an investigation into alleged environmental crimes by Roberto Carvalho, chief executive of Samarco Mineração SA, related to the deadly tailings dam burst in November last year. Such probe is independent of a $6.2 billion lawsuit the company and its partner Vale are currently facing for what has been billed the worst environmental disaster in Brazil's history. The firms had agreed on a $2.2bn settlement in March, but Brazil's Superior Court responded to an appeal from the Federal Prosecutor's Office by issuing an interim order suspending its ratification.

Read the full post here

Article
+ Português - Hide

Author: Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragem-MAB (Brazil)

“Justiça suspende “acordão” de governos com Samarco que foi feito sem participação dos atingidos-Acordo feriu o direito à participação de atingidos e dos governos municipais. Agora, mobilização continua para que as futuras decisões judiciais respeitem a vontade popular”, 1o de julho de 2016

O Superior Tribunal de Justiça...suspendeu o acordo assinado entre representantes dos poderes públicos federal, de Minas Gerais e do Espírito Santo com a mineradora Samarco (Vale e BHP Billiton). A decisão liminar...provisória...foi publicada...[em 1o de julho de 2016]... O acordo foi homologado...[em]...5 de maio pelo Tribunal Regional Federal..., em Brasília. O pedido de suspensão foi feito pelo Ministério Público Federal...[que]...alega...que o acordo não tem legitimidade porque não ouviu as pessoas prejudicadas diretamente pelo desastre ambiental...Para o Procurador da República, Edmundo Antônio Dias Netto Junior, que tem acompanhado a luta dos atingidos pela Samarco organizados no Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB)...esta é uma decisão muito importante para as famílias. “O STJ reconheceu...a necessidade de participação, o que é uma grande vitória dos atingidos. Agora, é lutarmos para que esta participação seja efetivada”...Para Letícia Faria, integrante...do MAB em Minas Gerais, é o momento das famílias se organizarem para garantir que as futuras decisões respeitem a vontade popular...

Read the full post here

Article
+ Français - Hide

Author: AFP

« Rupture d'un barrage minier: le Brésil réclame 43 milliards de dollars à BHP et Vale », 4 mai 2016

La justice brésilienne a lancé une offensive judiciaire contre les géants miniers Vale et BHP Billiton, leur réclamant 43 milliards de dollars en réparation des dommages causés par la rupture d'un barrage de déchets miniers qui avait fait 19 morts.

Le ministère public a estimé mardi "à 155 milliards de réais (43,4 milliards de dollars)" la "valeur initiale" des réparations réclamées à la compagnie minière brésilienne Samarco et à ses deux propriétaires, les groupes brésilien Vale et anglo-australien BHP Billiton.

Il demande à ces sociétés de réparer "intégralement" les dommages humains, économiques et environnementaux provoqués par la tragédie…

Le 5 novembre 2015, un barrage de déchets de minerai de fer avait cédé…et libéré une gigantesque coulée de boue qui avait totalement submergé le village de Bento Rodrigues…avec des conséquences désastreuses pour la vie quotidienne de milliers d'habitants, l'environnement et l'économie locale.

Dans un communiqué, BHP Billiton a expliqué qu'il "restait engagé pour aider Samarco dans la reconstruction de la communauté et la restauration de l'environnement touché par la rupture du barrage"…[Fait aussi référence à BP]

Read the full post here

Article
4 May 2016

Brazil: Prosecutors file $44 billion civil suit against Vale, BHP Billiton, Samarco & govt. over dam disaster

Author: R.T. Watson and Yasmine Batista, Bloomberg

Bento_Rodrigues_Brazil_dam_burst_village_Credit_Senado_Federal

“Brazil Seeks $44 Billion in Suit Over Spill at BHP-Vale Dam”, 3 May 2016

Brazilian prosecutors filed a 155 billion reais ($44 billion) civil suit against Vale..., BHP Billiton...and their iron-ore venture over...[the]...dam rupture that killed as many as 19 people and caused severe environmental damage. The prosecuting task force is demanding the two companies and Samarco Mineracao...provide initial payment of 7.8 billion reais within 30 days...The civil suit...challenges a previous agreement the companies signed with federal and state governments, probably will result in a much lower settlement, according to Bank of America Corp. analysts. Samarco had been making progress at overcoming what authorities describe as Brazil’s biggest environmental disaster before the lawsuit was filed...“This action...includes not just the three companies but the federal government, both state governments and also various agencies.”...[prosecutor Eduardo Aguiar said]...Vale’s...bonds due 2022 slumped 3.9 cents in the past two days, to 87.4 cents on the dollar, while BHP notes due 2023 declined 0.9 cents to 105.4 cents. Samarco...bonds tumbled about 10 cents on the dollar...The...suit includes more than 10,000 pages of technical reports and more than 200 claims related to ecological, economic and social damages...Last week, a Minas Gerais state environmental prosecutor filed a petition to block restarting Samarco until the mine can prove that the failed tailings dam is no longer polluting waterways. Samarco said leakage is contained and that their position is substantiated by studies conducted by Brazil’s environmental agency...

Read the full post here

Article
3 March 2016

Brazil: Brazilian prosecutors question Samarco dam burst settlement

Author: Alonso Soto, Reuters (USA)

Brazilian prosecutors on Thursday criticized a deal that mining company Samarco reached earlier this week with the federal government to pay an estimated 20 billion reais ($5.27 billion)in damages for a deadly dam spill in November. The settlement favors the miner instead of the population affected by what is considered to be Brazil's worst environmental disaster, the prosecutors of the task force investigating the spill as well prosecutors in the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo said in a statement....Prosecutors said the deal does not guarantee the proper clean up and payment of damages for populations that were not included in settlement talks...

 

Read the full post here

Article
3 March 2016

Brazil: Historic Environmental Disaster To Cost Mining Company Billions

Author: Alejandro Davila Fragoso, Climate Progress (USA)

...Four months after the collapse of an iron ore dam caused the largest environmental disaster in Brazilian history, the mining companies involved agreed Wednesday to pay billions of dollars in the coming years to alleviate the devastated region.  "This agreement is an important step in supporting the long-term recovery of the affected communities and the environment," said Andrew Mackenzie, chief executive officer of BHP Billiton, in a statement...Some $1.1 billion will be distributed in the next three years through a foundation that will create programs to restore the environment and indemnify local communities, said BHP. Some $4 billion more will be provided in the next 15 year[s]...

Read the full post here

Article
2 March 2016

Brazil: $6 billion settlement reached in Brazil mining disaster

Author: Shasta Darlington, CNN Money (USA)

...On Wednesday, Samarco agreed to pay 4.4 billion reais over the next three years for clean-up. Then, between 2019 to 2031, it will make annual payments of approximately 1.2 billion reais, and could reach 20 billion reais in the period, according to a statement issued by President Dilma Rousseff's office...In a statement, BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Mackenzie said the agreement showed their commitment.  "This agreement is an important step forward in supporting the long-term recovery of the communities and environment affected by the Samarco dam failure," he said. But there could also be criminal charges. At the end of last month, police accused the chief executive of Samarco and six others of homicide over the collapsed dam. A court is weighing whether to file criminal charges.

Read the full post here

Article
2 March 2016

Samarco - Agreement Reached with Brazilian Authorities

Author: BHP Billiton

Samarco Mineracao S.A (Samarco) and its two shareholders, Vale S.A (Vale) and BHP Billiton Brasil LTDA (BHPB Brasil), have entered into an agreement with the Federal Attorney General of Brazil, the States of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais and certain other public authorities (Brazilian Authorities) for the restoration of the environment and communities affected by the Samarco dam failure on 5 November 2015. The Agreement provides a long-term remedial and compensation framework for responding to the impact of the Samarco tragedy. Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton Brasil will establish a Foundation that will develop and execute environmental and socio-economic programs to remediate and provide compensation for damage caused by the Samarco dam failure.

Read the full post here