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Report: Vale, BHP joint venture near settlement with Brazil for Samarco restart

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Report: Vale, BHP joint venture near settlement with Brazil for Samarco restart

Vale SA and BHP Billiton Group are said to be inching closer to signing a definitive settlement with Brazilian prosecutors, clearing the way for restart preparations for the Samarco Mineração SA joint venture and for debt talks to begin, Bloomberg News reported June 15, citing sources.

The companies previously secured multiple court extensions to negotiate the settlement of a multibillion-dollar claim stemming from the fatal Samarco tailings dam collapse in 2015.

According to the report, the final details of the settlement are due to be resolved shortly, which includes a prosecutor's request to include community representatives on the board of a foundation that is administering ongoing reparations.

The settlement will bring together two separate claims of 155 billion Brazilian reais by federal prosecutors, as well as 20 billion reais sought by the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in a civil suit.

The parties are expected to meet the June 25 deadline to negotiate a deal.

Aside from the legal proceedings in Brazil, BHP is potentially facing a class-action lawsuit from Australian law firm Phi Finney McDonald that argues that the mining giant misled investors over the 2015 dam burst at Samarco that killed 19 people.

In May, Vale denied reports from Brazilian media that suggested it was in talks with BHP regarding options for the Samarco joint venture, including buying out the latter's stake in Samarco Mineração.

The joint venture company and its owners received two waste system permits from Brazil's Minas Gerais state in December 2017.

As of June 14, US$1 was equivalent to 3.70 Brazilian reais.