The Brazilian government filed a civil lawsuit on November 30 against Samarco Minerção SA and its owners (Vale and BHP Billiton) for the damage caused by the Fundão tailings dam failure that destroyed villages, devastated the community of Mariana and polluted Rio Doce (Sweet River). Prosecutors are seeking approximately $5.2 billion to be paid over 10 years to compensate thousands of Brazilians impacted by the spill. Specifically, they asked a federal judge to set aside the greater of either 50% of Samarco’s net profit or 20% of Samarco’s annual revenue and, if Samarco is unable to pay, then Vale and BHP will be required to pay.
Vale and BHP Billiton have announced plans to work together with, and with Samarco to establish a voluntary, non-profit fund to support the rescue and recuperation of the Rio Doce river system. The companies said the aim is to seek additional financial support from other private, public and nongovernmental organizations. The initial value is still being defined.