BHP Billiton and its partner Vale have reached an agreement with the Brazilian government to dismiss the BRL20 billion ($5.2 billion) civil claim against the companies related to the tailings dam failure at Samarco in Minas Gerais in November 2015 that left 19 people dead and communities devastated.
The agreement also suspends the BRL155 billion ($41.5 billion) civil claim that was brought forth by the federal government in May 2016 for two years.
According to BHP, during this two-year period, the parties will work together to design a single process for the renegotiation of remediation and compensation programs and progress settlement of the BRL155 billion civil claim.
During the renegotiation period and up until revisions are agreed upon, the Renova Foundation will continue to implement the programs. A revised governance structure, based on the framework agreement, has also been agreed upon to enhance community participation in the process, BHP said.
The Inter-Federative Committee currently comprises 12 members, and the revised structure includes four additional members, with three being appointed by affected communities and one by the Public Defense Office. The Renova Board currently comprises seven members, with six appointed by the companies and one by the Inter-Federative Committee. Under the revised structure, two additional members of the Renova Board will be appointed by the affected communities.
A network of local and regional commissions has also been established along the Rio Doce to secure community participation in the decision making.
Samarco Mineração S.A. is jointly owned by BHP Billiton Brasil Ltda and Vale S.A. Operations were shut down following the disaster and Samarco said it does not know when operations will resume.