By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Mining giants, Vale and BHP Billiton, along with principal shareholders of Brazilian mining company, Samarco, have asked the Minas Gerais Federal Courts for a second extension in their deadline to pay their guarantees for the Mariana dam burst, which occurred in 2015.
The original deadline for the R$1.2 billion payment (approximately US$375.4 million) was December 10th, 2016.
“In addition to the relevant facts of November 11, 2016 and December 12, 2016, related to the ruling of the 12th Federal Court of the Judiciary Section of Belo Horizonte, which determined, among other measures, the deposit of R$1.2 billion by Samarco and its partners, Vale informs that the parties are in negotiations and filed today a joint petition for extension of the guarantee payment to January 19, 2017,” said press release sent by Vale to The Rio Times.
The companies are also required to prove by February of 2017 that the leakage of waste from the Fundão dam has definitely stopped.
By May of this year, the companies must also present conclusive studies, with endorsement from appropriate environmental agencies, regarding the action plan and the feasibility of the withdrawal of mud placed on the banks of Rio Doce river, its tributaries and the areas near its estuary.
The Samarco dam burst accident, considered one of the worst environmental disasters in Brazilian history triggered a massive mudslide which killed nineteen people and contaminated hundreds of thousands of acres of land, as well as polluting the Rio Doce river all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
A year after the incident, many of those who used the river as their livelihood are still unable to fish in its waters, and environmentalists say that the damage to the region’s flora and fauna will take years to recover.