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BHP expects to complete Samarco repair work by year-end

BHP Billiton Group expects to complete repairs on the tailings dam at its Samarco iron ore joint venture in Brazil by the end of the year.

"Works are underway by Samarco on the dam structures to contain the remaining tailings materials and to treat sediment between the Fundão Dam and the Neves Risoleta plant," the company said in an Oct. 7 statement.

The mine is operated by Samarco Mineração SA, which is jointly owned by BHP Billiton and Vale SA.

The Fundão tailings dam at the Samarco mine ruptured in early November 2015, flooding nearby communities and waterways in the Minas Gerais state with about 32 million cubic meters of tailings sludge. The incident claimed the lives of 19 people.

The Brazilian government and the two companies reached a settlement in March, which saw Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton agree to establish the Renova Foundation to shell out 4.4 billion Brazilian reais for the rehabilitation through 2018.

Under the framework agreement, the companies will ensure the integrity of impacted dams and progressively restore water quality in the nearby river system.

As of Oct. 6, US$1 was equivalent to 3.23 Brazilian reais.