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Brazil to sue Samarco mining firm for $5.2bn over dam burst

November 28, 2015 5:21 pm

The Brazilian government says it will sue mining company Samarco $5.2bn for the environmental damage caused after a waste water dam at an iron-ore mine collapsed.

At least 13 people died when the dam burst earlier this month in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais.

A village was destroyed and drinking water polluted over a wide area.

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Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said money was needed for environmental recovery and to compensate victims.

“There was a huge impact from an environmental point of view,” she told reporters in the capital Brasilia.

“It is not a natural disaster, it is a disaster prompted by economic activity, but of a magnitude equivalent to those disasters created by forces of nature.”

She said about 500km (310 miles) of the Rio Doce – one of Brazil’s most important rivers – would have to be dredged in parts, vegetation replanted and fresh water springs cleared.

Samarco is owned by mining giants Vale, from Brazil, and Anglo-Australian company BHP Billiton.

On Thursday the UN said the dam burst had unleashed a flood of “toxic mud”.

However, mining giant BHP said in a statement that the water in the dam – a by-product of iron ore extraction – did not pose any threat to humans.

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