Brazilian prosecutors have filed a $43billion civil lawsuit against BHP Billiton and Vale for social, environmental and economic compensation in relation to the failure of the Fundao tailings dam at the Samarco iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The lawsuit follows the collapse of a dam they owned that caused a huge mudslide, polluted a river, and killed 19 people last November.
BHP Billiton, owner of iron miner Samarco Mineracao, said it has not received formal notice of the claim.
The company said it remains committed to helping Samarco to rebuild the community and restore the environment affected by the failure of the dam.
BHP Billiton announced in March that it, Samarco and Vale entered into an agreement with the Federal Attorney General of Brazil, the States of Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais and certain other public authorities for the restoration.
The agreement, which remains subject to court approval, provides a long-term remedial and compensation framework for responding to the impact of the Samarco tragedy.
It incorporates a requirement for community consultation on the remediation projects and compensation of the environment and communities affected by the Samarco dam failure.
“We believe that the Agreement (once approved by the Court) provides the long-term remedial and compensation framework for responding to the impact of the Samarco tragedy and the appropriate platform for the parties to work together,” the company said in a statement