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By Robb M. Stewart
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP.AU), Vale SA (VALE) and their Brazilian iron-ore mining venture have settled with state prosecutors in Brazil over one of the civil claims filed in the wake of a fatal 2015 dam failure.
The partial settlement of claims moves the legal process forward a step and will allow a foundation set up by the companies and their joint venture, Samarco Mineracao SA, to make payments to some of those affected by the dam's collapse.
The agreement on how a compensation program will be administered in Mariana, Mina Gerais, was reached between the companies and the local prosecutor in Mariana, and was ratified by the State Court of Mariana this week.
The November 2015 disaster in southeast Brazil released at least 32 million cubic meters of mine detritus-enough to fill the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium 11 times-which destroyed villages and polluted more than 400 miles of rivers before spewing into the Atlantic Ocean.
The prosecutor's office in the state of Minas Gerais filed a claim against BHP, Vale and Samarco in December 2015 for moral and material damages to an unspecified group of affected individuals, including payments for housing and economic assistance, accord to BHP's latest annual report. Payments have been held up by court proceedings including petitions from people in Brazil.
The claim was one of several against the companies and the joint venture in Brazil for billions of dollars. The parties in June entered an agreement to settle an about $5.2 billion public civil claim and established a process to renegotiate to push ahead with settlement of an about $20 billion claim by Brazil's federal public prosecutions office.
The Samarco mining and processing operations have remained suspended since the dam broke.
Write to Robb M. Stewart at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 03, 2018 05:46 ET (09:46 GMT)
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