The company will respond in the same manner as mining giant BHP Billiton
Mining company Vale could become a defendant in the United Kingdom in the process of assessing liability for the Mariana (MG) tragedy. Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton is already a target of this process. The matter was discussed for two days in the hearing held in London and concluded today Thursday (13). There is no date yet for a decision.
The tragedy occurred in November 2015 when a dam owned by Samarco, a mining company located in the Marianas, collapsed. In the episode, an avalanche swept through the Rio Dos basin, affecting dozens of municipalities in Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo. Nineteen people died.
Vale is one of Samarco’s two shareholders. Another is BHP Billiton, which is based in London and is responding to a case pending in the UK courts since 2018. It was moved by thousands of victims represented by Boguest Goodhead’s office. Municipalities, companies and religious institutions that claim to be affected by the tragedy are also part of the process.
Employment in this process was requested by BHP Billiton. The Anglo-Australian mining company says Vale would also be liable to pay at least 50% of the compensation if found guilty in the United Kingdom’s courts.
BHP Billiton’s request was filed after an English court rejected requests to dismiss the case. The mining company previously claimed it had duplicate tests and argued that compensation for damages should only happen under the supervision of Brazilian courts. On the other hand, the protection of the victims says that Brazil has not been able to ensure fair compensation. In March, 500 thousand new teachers joined the process. Therefore, now more than 700 thousand people and companies are represented by Bogost Goodhead office.
In Brazil, all compensation measures are managed by the Renova Foundation, created in 2016 under an agreement signed between the three mining companies, Union, and the governments of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo. He is responsible for managing more than 40 projects. However, nearly eight years later, its actions have been the target of several legal challenges from victims and public officials. Debates range from delays in completing reconstruction work to compensation in the tragedy-hit districts.
The Public Ministry of Minas Gerais (MPMG) called for the dissolution of the Renova Foundation because it deemed it lacked the necessary autonomy in relation to the three mining companies. An attempt A restatement of the compensation processThe ability to point out solutions to more than 85,000 tragedy-related cases has been ongoing since last year.
In a hearing held over the past two days, Vale argued that the UK court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, aligning itself with the position already taken by BHP Billiton. In a statement, the mining company also said that more than R$30.05 billion in resources allocated to the Renova Foundation have been designated to compensate more than 417.5 thousand people. “Possible compensation was imposed in the collective action [movida no Reino Unido] Amounts already received by the same teachers in Brazil, due to individual contracts or court rulings, should be taken into account,” Vale’s statement added.
Outside the court, representatives of the victims staged a protest. Residents of the affected areas and representatives of various tribes attended. The People’s Movement Affected by Dams (MAB) issued a statement by its coordinator Josili Andreoli, who was part of the delegation.
“We know that Brazilian justice is flawed, and Vale wants to be tried there because it has influence. She has misled the victims of what is the biggest socio-environmental crime in the country for eight years. We hope Vale will be tried here and full reparations for the victims.
Attorney Tom Goodhead of Pogust Goodhead’s office representing the victims released a statement. “Two of the world’s largest mining companies are engaged in a legal battle to determine who should be held responsible for this heinous crime, when what really needs to be discussed is eight years of compensation for victims. They are wasting time, energy and resources instead of sitting down with the victims and solving this case. They are not facing the consequences of their negligence. It is a disgusting sight. ”, he criticized.
BHP said in a statement that it will continue to defend itself in the UK courts and that it considers the process unnecessary because it duplicates issues covered by the Renova Foundation’s work or the subject of legal debates in Brazil. According to the text, Vale’s request for inclusion is a necessary procedural step, so responsibilities are shared at the time of the payment order.
According to the note, the situation will not affect relations between the two mining companies. BHP Billiton said it would continue to work closely to support the ongoing remediation efforts. “In total, more than 200,000 English language teachers already receive some form of payment in Brazil”, the text adds.
Judgment in 2024
Action in the United Kingdom was suspended at an early stage, and whether the case could be analyzed in the country was still being debated. Without examining the merits of the issue, English judge Mark Turner considered abuse, inter alia, in 2020, as both Brazil and the United Kingdom may have sentences that cannot be commuted through concurrent trials.
According to the judge, there is insufficient evidence that the Brazilian justice system is incapable of ensuring fair compensation. However, in July 2022, the Court of Appeal accepted the victims’ appeal and determined that the merits of the case should be analyzed.
Hearings to determine the merits of the case and assess whether BHP Billiton is to blame for the tragedy are initially scheduled for April 2024. However, in May, the UK court changed the date and the case will be analyzed. Only in October 2024. The postponement partially satisfied the mining company’s demand. BHP Bilton wanted more time for the Vale operation and supported hearings in 2025. Victims’ defense spoke against the adjournment.
Editing: Marcelo Brandão
Posted on 07/13/2023 – 23:20 – Leo Rodriguez – Agencia Brasil – Correspondent in Rio de Janeiro
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