Independent Brazil prosecutors hit Vale, BHP with $44 billion civil lawsuit for dam collapse

Click to enlargeRicardo Moraes/Reuters

Mining companies Vale SA and BHP Billiton were hit with a $43.5 billion civil lawsuit for the collapse of a dam at a mine last year that killed 19 people and caused damage that prosecutors said was comparable to BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The 359-page lawsuit brought by independent federal prosecutors was the result of a six-month investigation and is also against state and federal governments. Prosecutors accused the state of Minas Gerais, where the dam collapsed in November 2015, of negligence in its monitoring of the build up of waste and water sludge left over from the companies’ mining venture, Samarco…

The total damages, prosecutors said, were calculated on the basis of the cost of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the United States. BP’s total pre-tax charge for that accident, in 2010, reached $53.8 billion…

The new suit is over 7 times the tentative settlement reached between BHP and Brazilian federal and state governments.

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