Brazil rejects Vale, BHP settlement offer for Mariana disaster

The November 2015 dam collapse at the Samarco iron ore mine near the town of Mariana, Minas Gerais state, caused a vast flow of mud and mining waste that buried a nearby village, killing 19 people. (Image: Corpo de Bombeiros/MG)

The Brazilian government and the State of EspĂ­rito Santo rejected the new compensation proposal for the deadly 2015 Mariana tailings dam burst presented by Samarco, Vale and BHP on Friday.

According to Brazil’s solicitor general’s office, the offer from the mining companies “does not represent progress compared to the previous proposal, presented and discussed in December 2023.”

Vale, BHP, and their joint venture Samarco had earlier this week presented authorities with an offer to pay a total of 127 billion reais ($25bn) as reparations for the dam collapse, including 37 billion reais already disbursed.

In December 2023, the companies and authorities had already disagreed when the companies offered around 40 billion reais ($7.9 billion), while the government claimed approximately 120 billion reais ($23.7 billion).

Authorities say the new proposal contains “unacceptable conditions” that disregard what “had already been exhaustively debated and agreed upon” since negotiations began.

According to Brazilian authorities, the new offer provides for a much lower removal of mining waste from the Rio Doce than what had already been negotiated.

The November 2015 dam collapse at the Samarco iron ore mine near the town of Mariana, Minas Gerais state, caused a vast flow of mud and mining waste that buried a nearby village, killing 19 people, leaving hundreds homeless and polluting the Rio Doce river that flows through Espirito Santo.

Authorities also criticized the proposed transfer of the obligation to recover degraded areas to Brazilian authorities and the request by the miners for municipalities to waive any future lawsuits.

The government of Minas Gerais stated that it also expects a revision of the proposal but said that the new offer presents advances.