Rick Archer, 20 April 2021
A Brazilian mining joint venture between Vale SA and the BHP Group involved in a 2015 dam disaster Tuesday asked a New York bankruptcy court for Chapter 15 bankruptcy recognition as it attempts to reorganize $8.8 billion in debt in the Brazilian courts.
n its petition late Monday, Samarco Mineração SA asked for the U.S. court’s recognition of the restructuring proceedings it began in the Brazilian courts last week.
Vale and BHP announced April 9 that Samarco Mineração had filed for judicial reorganization in the Brazilian courts as a “last ditch” response to legal actions filed by creditors in the U.S. and Brazil seeking payments on $2.5 billion in debt, and pledged Samarco would continue operating and paying for remediation efforts stemming from the Fundão Dam collapse.
The Fundão Dam, which contained a reservoir used to store arsenic and lead waste from an iron mine operated by Samarco, collapsed in November 2015, killing 19 people, obliterating entire villages and contaminating waterways in what is considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
More than a dozen employees were charged with criminal offenses, and multiple suits were filed against Samarco, Vale and BHP in Brazil and abroad. In 2017, the three companies settled a case brought by Brazilian federal prosecutors with the establishment of the Renova Foundation to handle compensation and remediation efforts.