BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) (LON:BLT) took another hit Tuesday, losing 1.8% in Sydney to close below the critical $20 level at $19.71, a seven-year low, as news of mudflow from the collapsed mine in Brazil reaching the Atlantic Ocean emerged.
As shown in several news outlets, the mix of reddish mud, water and debris from the Nov. 5 burst at the Samarco mine in the Minas Gerais, which BHP co-owns with Vale (NYSE:VALE), has travelled at least 600 kilometres from the site of the disaster in the mountains of Brazil, right into the ocean.
The mine spill, which killed at least 12 people and left 280,000 without drinking water, destroyed a nearby village and contaminated the Doce river basin, smothering thousands of fish, turtles and other animals.
Brazil’s environment minister, Izabella Teixeira, has already called it “the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history,” adding it would take at least 30 years to clean up the area.
Biologist, Marcos Vago, recently told G1, an affiliate of Brazil’s Globo media group (in Portuguese), that mineral toxins were likely to accumulate in fish stocks, causing supply and health problems.
The news came as the price of iron ore continues its month-long retreat, diving to a fresh 10-year low Tuesday to $43.69, according to The Metal Bulletin index.