BHP Billiton Expects Dam Failure Findings Soon

The giant mining company reported a $6.2 billion year-end loss on Aug. 16 but said "good progress" is being made on environmental restoration, community resettlement, and community health following the November 2015 collapse of the Fundão tailings dam at Samarco in southeastern Brazil, a disaster that killed 19 people, including 14 working on the dams at the time.

BHP Billiton announced a big annual loss, $6.2 billion, on Aug. 16 and provided an update on recovery efforts following the Samarco dam collapse in November 2015. BHP Billiton, based in Melbourne, Australia, owns half of Samarco, a Brazilian mining company, with Brazil's Vale S.A. owning the other half. The Fundão tailings dam at a Samarco iron mine in southeastern Brazil collapsed on Nov. 5, 2015, killing 19 people, including 14 working on the dams at the time, and also inundating a village and contaminating a river valley.

BHP Billiton Brasil LTDA, Vale, and Samarco agreed in March 2016 to pay for damages and restoration.

BHP Billiton reported Aug. 16 that "good progress" is being made on environmental restoration, community resettlement, and community health, and that Samarco also is building dikes downstream of the dam to capture sediment and reduce turbidity. "Preliminary compensation has been paid to those most severely impacted," it reported.

Samarco will not have received the necessary approvals to resume operations this year, according to the company's report, but the external investigation commissioned by BHP Billiton Brasil, Vale, and Samarco into the cause of the dam failure should be available within a few weeks, and the findings will be released to the public.

During fiscal 2016, there were no fatalities at BHP Billiton-operated sites and there was a significant decrease in high potential accidents. The BHP Billiton Group's Total Recordable Injury Frequency was 4.3 per million hours worked.

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