Samarco Mineração and its owners Vale and BHP Billiton Brasil have signed an agreement with Brazilian authorities to settle a BRL20bn ($5.30bn) lawsuit pertaining to the Samarco dam disaster that took place in 2015 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.


Image: The village of Bento Rodrigues after the Samarco dam disaster. Photo:courtesy of Senado Federal/

The agreement calls for improvements to be made in governance for the Renova Foundation, which was formed to support victims of the fatal dam accident that left at least 17 people dead.

It also places a two-year timeline for the settlement of a separate BRL155bn ($41bn) lawsuit, which will stay suspended to allow the concerned parties continue with their negotiations.

The Brazilian authorities which signed the agreement with the mining firms include the Federal and State Prosecution offices, the Federal Public Defenders’ office and the State Public Defenders’ offices of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo and the Federal Attorneys’ office and State Attorneys’ offices of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo.

Additionally, the signed agreement ends relevant lawsuits, including the Public Civil Action of BRL20bn ($5.3bn), filed by the Brazilian government and the Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo governments.

Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman said: “The Agreement is important because it demonstrates a convergence of interests between the parties, Vale, BHP Brasil, Samarco, the Federal Prosecution offices, the Federal and State Attorneys’ offices and the Federal and State Public Defenders’ offices, representing a further improvement for the affected people, as it consolidates and broadens the scope of the actions that were already being implemented by the Renova Foundation.”

The agreement reached by the parties is subject to the Brazilian government signing the agreement. It is also subject to ratification by the 12th Federal Court of Minas Gerais.

The lawsuits relate to the 5 November 2015 accident when a dam constructed in Bento Rodrigues to store iron ore waste of the Samarco mine collapsed following a massive failure. As a result, flooding took place in nearby towns leading to several casualties and injuries.