Vale faces £3bn lawsuit in Netherlands over Mariana dam disaster

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Brazilian mining major Vale is facing fresh legal action, this time in the Netherlands, over the deadly 2015 Mariana dam disaster in Brazil.

The class action lawsuit, which currently has more than 77,000 claimants signed on, is suing the company and its project partner BHP for $3.8bn (19.02bn reais) over ongoing environmental crises triggered by the dam collapse.

The case is being brought by law firms Pogust Goodhead and Lemstra Van der Korst against Vale and Samarco Iron Ore Europe, a marketing arm of the Samarco joint venture (JV) between Vale and BHP responsible for the construction and operation of the dam.

Pogust Goodhead is also involved in a separate ongoing class action being brought against BHP in the UK, which now has more than 700,000 claimants signed on. The trial is set to start in October, but BHP has filed a contribution claim seeking to include Vale in any compensation orders.

The law firm said in a press statement published on Tuesday that it will initially request compensation of more than £3bn in the Dutch case for claimants of more than 77,000 individuals, almost 1,000 businesses and seven municipalities.

The collapse of the Mariana iron ore tailings dam led to the deaths of 19 people. It also destroyed whole villages and towns across two Brazilian states and released more than 60 million cubic metres of toxic mining sludge into the Doce River and Atlantic Ocean. The incident has been described as the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.

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“More than eight years after the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history, it is appalling that many victims have still not received adequate redress for the damages caused to them,” said Tom Goodhead, Podgust Goodhead CEO.

“The claims being brought in the Netherlands against Vale and Samarco Iron Ore Europe BV for their role in the disaster show that delaying justice and making low value offers in Brazil will not stop the victims from demanding justice. We are glad to be instructed to hold Vale and Samarco’s subsidiary to account for their role in the disaster.”

In January, a federal judge in Brazil ordered Vale and BHP and their Samarco JV to pay $9.7bn in another case linked to the dam collapse. Both companies said they are likely to appeal the decision.

On its website, Vale says it is “committed to the full reparation of the communities and people impacted by the dam collapse”. Under an initial deal with Brazilian authorities, BHP and Vale both agreed to directly fund the Renova Foundation, a non-profit organisation set up to provide compensation to affected communities, as a form of reparation payment. They have so far contributed approximately $7bn.




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