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Brazil's Superior Court lifts freeze on $930 million of Braskem cash

Sao Paulo — Brazil's Superior Court of Appeals (STJ) lifted a freeze on Real $3.7 billion ($930 million) of petrochemical company's Braskem funds, the company said.

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Braskem said late Friday the decision was "conditional upon the effective presentation of a new insurance guarantee of the same amount by Braskem to the court."

On June 26, a Brazilian court slapped a precautionary freeze on up to Real $3.7 billion of Braskem funds for potential payment of costs associated with fissures and other geological damage to areas near the company's salt mining operations in the state of Alagoas.

The issue stems from fissures in neighborhoods of Maceio, where Braskem has chlor-alkali and PVC plants. The company mines salt in the region used to produce chlorine at the chlor-alkali facility. Chlorine mixed with ethylene makes ethylene dichloride, or EDC, a precursor to PVC.

According to Brazil's Geological Survey (CPRM), the Pinheiro neighborhood has historically seen fissures and sinkholes among houses and public roads. Such incidents intensified after heavy rain in the region in February 2018 and a March earthquake that registered 2.5 on the Richter scale, the agency said.

Braskem, which has conducted salt mining in Alagoas since 1975, ceased operating in Pinheiro and started to monitor issues with buildings in the neighborhood in March 2018.

-- Guilherme Baida, guilherme.baida@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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