Update: Dam Collapse in Brazil: Lawsuit against Executives

Der brasilianische Ort Bento Rodrigues im Bezirk Mariana des Bundesstaates Minas Gerais nach dem Dammbruch am 5. November 2015 © Flickr, Senado Federal

The Brazilian village of Bento Rodrigues, a subdistrict of Mariana in Minas Gerais state, after the dam collapse on November 5, 2015 © Flickr, Senado Federal

Since the disastrous collapse of the tailings dam in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in November 2015 (which FACING FINANCE has reported on several times since the incident)1 the Brazilian public prosecutor’s office filed homicide charges against 21 executive staff members of the mining companies BHP Billiton (Australia), Vale S.A. (Brazil) and Samarco Mineração, which is a joint-venture between Vale and BHP Billiton.2

In May this year, Brazilian federal prosecutors already filed a civil lawsuit against the mining companies, seeking $44 billion for the massive environmental destruction caused by the catastrophe.3

The accident, which has been deemed the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history, occurred in November last year when Samarco’s tailings dam breached,4 flooding 800 km of the Doce River and contaminating the environment with high-toxin heavy metals.5 The mud-slaw destroyed the village Bento Rodrigues, left 700 people homeless and killed 19 people.6

As reported by FACING FINANCE in June,7 the official seven-month long police investigation concluded that, for years, Samarco ignored clear signs that the dam was at risk of failing, including cracks and drainage problems. The company, however, rejected any allegations of intentional misconduct.8


  1. FACING FINANCE, article dated 27.11.2015 , accessed 25.10.2016; FACING FINANCE, article dated 30.11.2016, accessed 25.10.2016 []
  2. MINING.com, article dated 20.10.2016, accessed 25.10.2016 []
  3. Reuters, article dated 04.05.2016, accessed 25.10.2016 []
  4. taz, article dated 18.11.2015, accessed 25.10.2016; BNamericas, article dated 06.11.2015, accessed 26.10.2016 []
  5. KoBra, article dated 28.11.2015, accessed 26.10.2016 []
  6. KoBra, article dated 28.11.2015, accessed 26.10.2016; BHP Billiton Sustainability Report 2016, accessed 01.11.2016 []
  7. FACING FINANCE, article dated 21.06.2016, accessed 25.10.2016 []
  8. MINING.com, article dated 10.06.2016, accessed 25.10.2016 []
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