BHP Billiton [JSE:BIL] said on Monday it will fight a class action served in the Federal Court of Australia over the 2015 Samarco dam disaster in Brazil.
In a brief statement the multinational mining, petroleum and metals company said it "noted" media reports concerning the Australian class action relating to the Samarco dam failure, and confirmed that it had been served with a class action filed in Victoria, Australia.
"BHP intends to defend the claim," it said.
At the end of 2015, a dam wall collapsed at the Samarco operation jointly owned by BHP and Vale SA in Brazil. Nineteen people were killed, villages were destroyed and over 600km of waterways were polluted.
The company reported a $6.4bn loss for the 2015 financial year, its worst-ever full-year results.
On 29 June 2018, BHP announced it had agreed to fund a total of US$211m in financial support for the Renova Foundation and Samarco Mineração SA until 31 December 2018. This would be used for the remediation and compensation programmes agreed on between Samarco, Vale SA, BHP Brasil and various government authorities following the Samarco dam failure, and the amount of US$158m "would be offset against the Group’s provision for the Samarco dam failure", BHP said.
A short-term facility of up to US$53m (BHP Brasil’s share) would be made available to Samarco to carry out ongoing repair works, maintain Samarco’s facilities and support restart planning, with funds released to Samarco as required, and subject to the achievement of "key milestones".
At 11:33 on Monday, BHP shares were trading at R285.38 on the JSE, up 0.01%.
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