Samarco Mineracao and its parent companies Vale and BHP Billiton signed a 15-year agreement on Wednesday, March 3 with Brazilian authorities related to the Samarco dam failure that occurred on November 5, 2015, and left 19 people dead, devastated surrounding communities and polluted the Rio Doce. The companies agreed to pay BRL 2 billion (approximately $500 million) in damages this year and BRL 1.2 billion (approximately $300 million) in 2017 and 2018.

The companies will establish a foundation that will develop and execute environmental and socioeconomic programs to remediate and provide compensation for damage caused by the Samarco dam failure. It will be governed by a seven-member board, with Samarco, BHP Billiton Brasil, and Vale each appointing two members and Brazilian authorities appointing one member.

The amount of annual contributions for 2019, 2020 and 2021 will vary between a minimum of BRL 800 million (approximately $200 million) and a maximum of BRL 1.6 billion (approximately $400 million), depending on the remediation and compensation projects that are to be undertaken in that year.

The agreement is subject to court approval, and if approved, will settle the civil claim brought against the companies by Brazilian authorities on November 30, 2015, which sought for damages of up to BRL 20 billion.

BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie said, “This agreement is an important step forward in supporting the long-term recovery of the communities and environment affected by the Samarco dam failure. It provides a platform for the parties to work together to support the remediation of affected areas. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to repairing the damage caused and to contributing to a lasting improvement in the Rio Doce.”