UK lawsuit against BHP 2015 Dam failure in Brazil hits wall | Business and economic news


A large group of Brazilian claimants of 200,000 have failed to revive a $ 6.9 billion UK lawsuit against Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP over Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.

A group of 200,000 Brazilian claimants said on Wednesday they had failed to resuscitate a UK £ 5bn ($ 6.9bn) lawsuit against Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP over the devastating split dam in 2015.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court that the large class action was an abuse of process, that plaintiffs could already seek redress in Brazil, and that the case would be “hopelessly unmanageable” if allowed to continue.

Tom Goodhead, PGMBM’s lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said it was “a sad day for the English justice system” after senior judges agreed the claim, relating to Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, must be struck out of the role.

The collapse of the Fundao dam, owned by the Samarco company between BHP and Brazilian iron ore mining giant Vale, killed 19 people and sent a flood of mining waste to communities, the Doce River and the ocean Atlantic, 650 km (400 miles).

The landmark case was the final battle to determine whether multinationals can be held responsible for the behavior of subsidiaries abroad.

In 2019, the UK Supreme Court allowed Zambian villagers to sue miner Vedanta in England for alleged pollution in Africa and, in February, allowed Nigerian farmers and fishermen to sue Royal Dutch Shell for oil spills. hydrocarbons in the Niger Delta.

But Britain’s claim against BHP was first overturned in November after a High Court judge ruled that allowing it to proceed in the UK would be like ‘trying to build a house of cards in a wind tunnel’ .

Goodhead said he was surprised and disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal, which sent “the wrong message about corporate responsibility and the legal consequences of wrongdoing.”

“We are committed to supporting the victims of this tragedy. We will now take stock and assess our options as to how best to achieve justice, ”he said.

BHP welcomed the ruling, which it said reinforced its view that the proceedings duplicated existing and ongoing redress efforts and legal proceedings in Brazil. He said he remained fully committed to doing “the right thing” for the victims.

BHP says so and Vale has each donated around $ 1.7 billion to the Renova Foundation, established in 2016 by the Brazilian division of BHP, Samarco and Vale to manage 42 repair projects, including providing financial assistance to indigenous families, rebuilding villages and establishing new water supply systems.

BHP said Renova has spent nearly 12 billion reais ($ 2.17 billion) on the projects to date.

A United Nations expert report, released in September, said the disaster had decimated the livelihoods of more than three million people, leaving residents exposed to dust and heavy metals in the mud – and that Toxicity information was insufficient and all repair projects were overdue. .

In October, Brazilian federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit against BHP and Vale, alleging compensation was too low and forcing victims to give up their rights in other court proceedings.

Renova insisted that projects like water quality monitoring and environmental repairs are on track, while miners reject allegations that they fail to meet their obligations and commit wrongdoing .





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