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BHP, Vale set up fund for mining disaster

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Vale are setting up an emergency fund as an immediate step to help affected families and for rebuilding works after the deadly iron ore mine dam burst in Brazil.

The fund, expected to be worth more than $US100 million ($A141.70 million), was announced after BHP Billiton chief executive Andrew Mackenzie and Vale chief Murilo Ferreira visited the scene of the November 5 disaster, which has left at least six dead and 21 missing.

"Vale and BHP have health, safety, environment and geotechnical experts on site supporting Samarco's response. We have also had discussions with Samarco and authorities about the additional support we can provide," the two chief executives said in a joint statement.

The Samarco mine in southeastern Brazil is jointly owned by BHP and Brazil's Vale.