BHP says Vale must share damage costs in Fundao dam collapse lawsuit

Rupture of Samarco’s Fundao dam – Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

BHP Group NYSE, ASX: BHP) said on Monday that Vale SA must share liability should it lose a UK class action lawsuit over the deadly 2015 Fundao dam collapse in Brazil.

Although Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Vale, operated the dam, the class action involving around 200,000 people does not name Vale.

As a result of the Fundao Dam collapse, large amounts of toxic mine waste were released, destroying villages, killing 19 people and polluted hundreds of miles of rivers.

BHP said it will continue to defend the English Proceedings, which it believes are unnecessary because they duplicate matters already covered by the existing and ongoing work of the Renova Foundation and legal proceedings in Brazil.

“BHP Brasil remains committed to continuing working with Samarco and Vale to support the local remediation efforts in Brazil through the Renova Foundation. Those efforts have already provided approximately $2.3 billion in compensation and direct financial aid in relation to the dam failure to 388,000 people to 30 June 2022,” the miner said in the statement.

Vale said its legal advisors will carefully consider the details of the action and provide their response in a timely manner.

“However, Vale does not accept that it is subject to the jurisdiction of the English Court and intends to challenge that jurisdiction, as well as the alleged liability in connection with the UK Action,” said the Brazilian company in a press release.

Samarco resumed activities in 2020, five years after the Fundão dam tragedy.