International news within the industry of mining and metal, May, 22 2019
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Mining companies are required to pay billions after dam accident

The rupture of the tailings dam of mining company Samarco, owned by Vale and the Anglo-Australian BHP, caused a flood of mud that flooded several houses and many cars in the Bento Rodrigues district of Mariana, in the Central Region of Minas Gerais. Photo: Wikipedia, credit: Rogério Alves
The rupture of the tailings dam of mining company Samarco, owned by Vale and the Anglo-Australian BHP, caused a flood of mud that flooded several houses and many cars in the Bento Rodrigues district of Mariana, in the Central Region of Minas Gerais. Photo: Wikipedia, credit: Rogério Alves
Published by
Markku Björkman - 08 May 2019

The mining company that caused the dam accident that killed 19 people in Brazil in 2015 is sued in record amount. In order to restore the damage after one of Brazil's worst environmental disasters, the Australian-British company is required almost 5 billion dollars.

The lawyers representing the victims believe that the mining company neglected the risks and acted "extremely careless".

- The company acted too slowly and ignored the repeated warnings that female experts informed the company, says Tom Goodhead, co-owner of the British law firm SPG.

The law firm represents 235,000 Brazilians who sued the mining company BHP Billiton before the Liverpool court. The lawyers suggest that there was greed behind the environmental disaster.

- The company was worried about reduced revenues due to the falling world market price of iron ore and had increased production. They chose to close their eyes to the dangers that led to deaths and destroyed communities, says Tom Goodhead.

The dam accident occurred in the state of Minas Gerais on November 5, 2015. It caused 19 casualties as the mining company's dust broke and poisonous clay masses from the iron ore extraction drowned the village of Bento Gonçalves.

The clay slurry, which contained heavy metal residues, ran into the Rio Doce river which supplies drinking water to 230 Brazilian municipalities. All fish died and even the endangered sea turtles, which lay eggs where the river meets the Atlantic, were hit. Over 700 people were forced to move from their homes.

Cobalt mine in Democratic Republic Congo. About half of all mined cobalt comes from DRC, mainly from the province of Katanga. The mining takes place close to towns and villages. Local communities regularly are cut off from their farmland and water sources near mines, without having had a say in the matter. There are several examples of forced relocations of entire villages. Inhabitants of the village Kishiba, for example, were forced to move to make way for Frontier, a cobalt and copper mine. Their new homes in Kimfumpa lack the most basic of services such as clean water, fertile farmland, schools and health care. Photo: ECCJ Secretariat
Cobalt mine in Democratic Republic Congo. About half of all mined cobalt comes from DRC, mainly from the province of Katanga. The mining takes place close to towns and villages. Local communities regularly are cut off from their farmland and water sources near mines, without having had a say in the matter. There are several examples of forced relocations of entire villages. Inhabitants of the village Kishiba, for example, were forced to move to make way for Frontier, a cobalt and copper mine. Their new homes in Kimfumpa lack the most basic of services such as clean water, fertile farmland, schools and health care. Photo: ECCJ Secretariat

Chinese control half of the Congo's cobalt