A judge in Brazil has determined that mining corporations Vale and BHP, along with their joint venture Samarco, are required to pay a sum of 47.6 billion reais (equivalent to AU$14.7 billion) in compensation for the collapse of a tailings dam in 2015. This information was revealed in a legal ruling obtained by Reuters.
Both Vale, a company based in Brazil, and BHP, a company listed in Australia, stated separately that they were not notified by the court about the decision.
Samarco refused to provide a statement.
The failure of a dam in the southeastern city of Mariana resulted in a massive mudslide, claiming the lives of 19 individuals and causing significant contamination of the Rio Doce River. This has affected the river’s flow all the way to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean.
The amount was determined by federal judge Vinicius Cobucci, based on the expenses already acknowledged by the companies in repair and compensation actions.
He stated that the amount of 47.6 billion reais must be adjusted for inflation and include late payment fees.
The exact amount each company is responsible for in the sentence is unclear at this time.
The judge stated in the legal paperwork that the funds will be allocated to a state fund and utilized for projects and initiatives in the region impacted by the dam collapse.
The decision can be appealed by the companies.
According to the official document submitted to regulatory agencies, Vale reported that the Renova Foundation has contributed a total of 34.7 billion reais for socio-economic and environmental restitution as of December of last year.