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Samarco Mineração eyes iron ore mine ops restart after license review in 2019

BHP Billiton Group and Vale SA joint venture Samarco Mineração SA expects to secure all licenses required to resume operations at the Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil in 2019, Reuters reported Aug. 8, citing a company statement.

The environmental agency for the country's Minas Gerais state, in a separate statement, said it expects to conclude an analysis of the licenses in the first half of 2019, the news wire's report added.

Mine operations at Samarco were suspended after a fatal tailings dam incident in 2015 that killed 19 people. BHP and Vale's Samarco Mineração joint venture settled a 20 billion-reais lawsuit associated with the incident.

BHP agreed to fund a total of US$211 million in financial aid for the Renova Foundation and Samarco Mineração until the end of the year, while Vale plans to contribute about 557.5 million reais toward environmental and community remediation.

Meanwhile, about 3,000 investors joined a class-action lawsuit filed by Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald that argues that BHP misled investors over the 2015 tailings dam burst.

The mining giant flagged in Melbourne's Federal Court Aug. 3 that it was likely to request a stay of proceedings on the class action filed by lawyers at Phi Finney McDonald, in a bid to avoid prejudicing homicide charges against current and former executives in Brazil, The Australian Financial Review reported Aug. 3.

As of Aug. 7, US$1 was equivalent to 3.71 Brazilian reais.