Financial|Iron Ore|Mining|Waste|Water|Environmental|Waste|Operations
Financial|Iron Ore|Mining|Waste|Water|Environmental|Waste|Operations

BHP, Vale in London court confrontation over Brazil dam damages

12th July 2023

By: Reuters


Font size: - +

LONDON - Mining giants BHP Group and Vale faced off in a London court on Wednesday over who should accept legal and financial responsibility in a potential 36-billion pound ($44-billion) lawsuit stemming from Brazil's worst environmental disaster.

Around 720 000 Brazilians are suing the world's biggest miner by market value, BHP, over the 2015 collapse of the Fundao Dam owned by the Samarco joint venture it operates with Brazilian iron-ore producer Vale.

BHP, which denies liability, applied in December to have Vale join the case and contribute to damages if they lose, but Vale challenged the London High Court's jurisdiction to determine the claim. The trial will start on October 7, 2024.

"BHP currently has no right to a 'contribution' from Vale under Brazilian law," said court filings submitted by Vale's lawyers.

"BHP can have no such right unless and until... it is found liable to the Claimants and makes a payment to them," the filings added.

Vale also said that it has no direct operations in Britain, and therefore London is not the appropriate location for the case.

"Has BHP satisfied the court that London is the natural forum for the dispute? The natural forum is Brazil," Vale's lawyer Simon Salzedo KC said on Wednesday.

BHP's lawyers said that if the company is found liable, then Vale should be too, because its relationship with Samarco was equivalent in terms of ownership, control and knowledge to that of BHP's.

"BHP therefore seek to have Vale share the burden of any such liability, and contribute (50% or more) to any payments made," BHP's lawyers said in a filing.

When the dam collapsed, 19 people were killed as mud and toxic mining waste swept into the Doce river, obliterating villages, contaminating water supplies and reaching the Atlantic Ocean more than 650 km away.

Reparation and compensation programmes implemented by the Renova Foundation, a redress scheme established in 2016 by Samarco and its shareholders, had funded more than $6-billion in financial aid for those affected by the disaster, BHP said.

"BHP Brasil continues to work closely with Samarco and Vale to support the reparation and compensation programmes... The 2024 trial will not deal with individual payments or any kind of indemnification," a BHP spokesperson said.

The lawsuit, one of the largest in English legal history, first began in 2018 and was thrown out of court two years later, before the Court of Appeal ruled in July 2022 that it could proceed.

An application to the Supreme Court by BHP to end the case without trial was quashed in June because it did "not raise an arguable point of law", the court concluded.

Edited by Reuters




Our Easy Access Chute concept was developed to reduce the risks related to liner maintenance. Currently, replacing wear liners require that...

Booyco Electronics
Booyco Electronics

Booyco Electronics, South African pioneer of Proximity Detection Systems, offers safety solutions for underground and surface mining, quarrying,...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.395 0.431s - 111pq - 2rq
1: United States
Subscribe Now
2: United States