Brazilian Federal Judge Orders Mining Giants to Pay $9.67 Billion Damages for 2015 Disaster

Brazilian Federal Judge Orders Mining Giants to Pay $9.67 Billion Damages for 2015 Disaster

A federal judge in Brazil has issued a landmark ruling, mandating mining behemoths BHP, Vale, and their Samarco joint venture to shell out 47.6 billion reais ($9.67 billion) in restitution for the catastrophic dam collapse in 2015. The calamity, stemming from the rupture of the Fundão dam in the southeast of Brazil, claimed the lives of 19 individuals and triggered a colossal mudslide that desecrated the Rio Doce River, rendering it uninhabitable up to its Atlantic Ocean outlet.

Judge Vinicius Cobucci pronounced the companies liable for “moral damages,” encompassing the emotional anguish endured by the victims. The allocated funds, subject to inflation adjustments since the incident, will be channeled into a state-managed fund dedicated to rehabilitation efforts in the affected region.

The verdict materialized following a civil suit filed by state and federal prosecutors. Although the exact individual financial obligations of each company remain undisclosed, Vale indicated its lack of notification regarding the ruling. Vale further noted that through the Renova Foundation, established by the companies for compensation, 34.7 billion reais have already been disbursed as of December last year. BHP and Samarco refrained from immediate comment on the matter.

The ruling allows the companies to lodge appeals against the decision. Samarco, owned by BHP and Vale, was the operating entity at the heart of the 2015 disaster in Minas Gerais state. The cataclysmic event not only claimed lives but also displaced 700 individuals, earning infamy as one of Brazil’s worst environmental debacles.

Investigations into the calamity revealed design flaws in the dam structure. A commissioned technical report by BHP and Vale uncovered dam design alterations, leading to compromised water drainage and eventual collapse. The report cited liquefaction—a phenomenon where solid particles behave like liquids—as a contributing factor exacerbated by a minor earthquake on the day of the disaster.

The 2015 disaster catalyzed a reassessment of safety protocols within the mining sector. Moreover, BHP and Vale confront a sizable class action lawsuit in the UK, with over 700,000 claimants seeking redress. This ruling arrives against the backdrop of another tailings dam failure in January 2019, owned by Vale, resulting in 270 fatalities in Brumadinho, the same Brazilian state.

TechGolly editorial team led by Al Mahmud Al Mamun. He worked as an Editor-in-Chief at a world-leading professional research Magazine. Rasel Hossain and Enamul Kabir are supporting as Managing Editor. Our team is intercorporate with technologists, researchers, and technology writers. We have substantial knowledge and background in Information Technology (IT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Embedded Technology.

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