The Brazilian government and Samarco mining company, jointly owned by mining giants BHP Billiton and Vale, made progress Thursday toward reaching a deal to settle a US$4.8 billion lawsuit over the largest mining disaster in Brazil’s history.
Settlement talks “advanced significantly” during a meeting between government and mine officials in Brasilia, raising expectations that the deal can be finalized by early February, Brazilian Attorney General Luis Ignacio Adams told reporters.
Cities and communities affected by the Samarco dam collapse along Brazil's Rio Doce. I Photo: Samarco
The lawsuit seeks compensation for the damages caused by the massive flood of contaminated water that flowed downstream from the site of a tailings dam breach at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais on Nov. 5, 2015.
The chemical-laced mudslide contaminated over 300 miles of Brazil’s Doce River, shut down community water supplies and almost entirely decimated the nearby community of Bento Rodrigues. Months after the disaster, there are signs of grave damage to the local ecosystem, while a cleanup of the toxic sludge remains an enormous task.
Before and after pics from DigitalGlobe/Google show toxic mud from Brazil’s dam collapse in the ocean near Regência pic.twitter.com/bnlys1GT2v — reported.ly (@reportedly)
December 2, 2015
The news of progress in the settlement deal comes a day after Samarco announced that two top corporate officials have been placed on temporary leave. Chief executive Ricardo Vescovi and operations chief Kleber Terra will focus on preparing their defense in the face of accusations of environmental crimes over the dam rupture, Reuters reported.
Brazil’s Globo TV reported Sunday that a previously unpublished document revealed that Samarco management had known that there were safety risks at the mine since 2013, including knowledge of the danger that the dam could burst.
The Samarco mine environmental disaster is being called the worst in Brazil’s history.
WATCH: Arsenic Found in River Polluted by Mine Waste