AAP Finance

BHP agrees $55.4b Samarco settlement talks

By AAP Newswire

BHP and its joint-venture partner Vale have reached a framework agreement with Brazilian prosecutors to negotiate a settlement of a $A55.35 billion claim relating to the fatal 2015 Samarco mine disaster.

BHP says an earlier 20 billion real ($A7.14 billion) civil claim will be dismissed and that the companies will negotiate settlement of a 155 billion real ($A55.35 billion) claim, which will be suspended for two years to allow talks.

"The renegotiation process will take into account the principles and rules established under the framework agreement, and will be aimed at improvement of the programs, with the involvement of the affected communities," BHP said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tailings dam collapse at the Samarco mine killed 19 people and led to widespread environmental damage.

BHP chief external affairs officer Geoff Healy called the signing of the agreement "a good step forward".

"We have a framework that brings all of the parties together, where we can work toward improving and refining the remediation and compensation process," Mr Healy said.

"The governance agreement creates a more stable environment for ongoing work and brings more community members and prosecutors into the process."

An investigation by geotechnical specialists in 2016 found the deadly dam collapse was the result of a series of design and drainage issues over a number of years.

The disaster also caused a massive spill of waste material, polluted a major river and displaced several small communities.

Operations at Samarco have remained suspended as talks continue with the government to obtain the required environmental licences.

At 1150 AEST, BHP's ASX-listed shares were down 47.5, or 1.4 per cent, at $32.505 - broadly in line with the overall resources sector.