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BHP gets more time for Samarco claims deal

 

A court in Brazil has granted an additional 66 days for BHP Billiton, Vale and their joint venture partner Samarco to negotiate a settlement of multi-billion dollar public civil claims over the 2015 mine dam collapse in Brazil.

The companies are facing two claims worth $US47.6 billion and $US6.1 billion ($A62.1 billion and $A8 billion), respectively, in relation to the incident that killed 19 people and led to widespread environmental damage.

They are also separately facing criminal proceedings in Brazilian courts.

BHP on Monday said the deadline - a second extension granted by the Brazilian court - will now be June 25 and until that time, the current suspension of legal proceedings will remain in place.

The Brazilian court in November granted a 150-day extension to negotiate the settlement.

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

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

Samarco, BHP and Vale last year agreed to support social and environmental programs, as well as fund local municipalities while negotiations continued.

That preliminary deal also included an interim security worth $US395 million in insurance bonds, $US30 million in liquid assets, and a charge of $US245 million over Samarco's assets.

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