Australian mining company BHP and its partners have been ordered by the Federal Court of Brazil to pay BRL47.6bn ($9.7bn) in damages over the Fundão tailings dam failure in 2015.

BHP said that it has not received any communication from the court regarding the fine imposed and will review the decision to evaluate its implications.

In May 2016, Brazil’s Federal judiciary agency opened a public civil claim against Samarco Mineração, Vale and Billiton Brasil (BHP Brasil), seeking BRL155bn ($32bn) in damages.

The Fundão tailings dam was operated by Samarco, a non-operated joint venture owned by BHP Brasil, a subsidiary of BHP and Vale that held 50% interest in Samarco.

In October 2023, Brazilian Federal Prosecutors filed an interlocutory motion in the Federal Prosecution Office claiming the early payment of collective moral damages.

BHP in its statement said: “BHP Brasil has not been served with a decision by the Court and will review the decision to assess its implications, the potential for an appeal and any potential impact to the Group’s provision related to the Samarco dam failure.

“Since early CY2021, the parties have been engaging in negotiations to seek a settlement of obligations under the Framework Agreement and BRL$155bn Federal Public Prosecution Office claim and the negotiations are expected to resume in February 2024.”

“The Group’s provision related to the Samarco dam failure is $3.7bn as of 30 June 2023.  Further details of the Group’s provisions and contingent liabilities related to the Fundão tailings dam failure, including the Federal Public Prosecution Office claim.”

BHP said that its Brazilian subsidiary is fully committed to supporting the extensive ongoing remediation and compensation efforts in Brazil through the Fundação Renova.

Fundação Renova is a not-for-profit, private foundation formed after the Fundão tailings dam failure to implement the 42 remediation and compensatory programs in Brazil.