Mariana tragedy: Samarco signs agreement that could settle claim of $48.2 bln
The agreement is to repair damages caused by Samarco dam failure,
Published in 19/01/2017 - 20:04 By Léo Rodrigues reports on-the-scene for Agência Brasil - Belo Horizonte
Samarco and its parents companies, Vale and BHP Billiton, announced today (Jan. 19) the signing of an agreement with the Federal Prosecution Service (MPF) that could settle the civil claim estimated at $48.2 billion on losses caused by the tragedy in Mariana, in Minas Gerais state.
In this preliminary agreement, the mining companies agree to hire experts appointed by federal prosecutors to revise the remediation programs to be carried out the company.
The tragedy in Mariana happened on November 5, 2015. The Fundão dam, owned by Samarco mining company, collapsed and released more than 60 million m3 of tailings. Nineteen people died. The native vegetation was devastated, Rio Doce Basin was polluted and the towns of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu were destroyed, together with other communities in Minas Gerais state and in the neighboring state of Espírito Santo. The case is considered the country's biggest environmental tragedy.
In order to repair the damage, Samarco, Vale, and BHP Billiton signed, in March 2015, an agreement with the Federal Government and Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo governments. They estimated an investment of $6.2 billion to be made over approximately 15 years. They designed 41 programs to mitigate or compensate the damage caused by the tragedy.
The MPF opposed the agreement and brought an action estimating damages at $48.2 billion. In August 2016, federal prosecutors have also prevented the $6.2 billion agreement from being judicially approved.
Surrounded by uncertainty, the mining companies and governments are carrying out the 41 agreed programs. And, if this preliminary agreement is approved by the court, federal prosecutors shall appoint experts who will be paid by the mining companies to assess these programs.
The MPF also released a note pointing out that the preliminary agreement does not automatically terminates the $48.2 billion civil claim. According to the note, this decision can only be taken if they settle the claim and sign the final consent decree, which is scheduled for June 30.
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta
Fonte: Mariana tragedy: Samarco signs agreement that could settle claim of $48.2 bln
Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster