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BHP set to face $12bn UK suit over Brazil dam disaster

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A UK judge set a trial date of April 2024 for a case against BHP Group over a Brazilian mining-waste disaster, with claimants seeking an estimated £10 billion ($12 billion).

An eight-week hearing is scheduled to proceed almost nine years after a dam collapse unleashed a torrent of waste, killing 19 and polluting waterways in two Brazilian states.

“Given the scale and nature of the litigation, it is not surprising that there have been challenges, appeals and changes to the claims,” Judge Finola O’Farrell wrote in a judgment published Wednesday. “However, it is now time to avoid further delay and make substantive progress in determining the dispute.”

Current and former executives of London-listed BHP will face cross-examination regarding their roles in the disaster, according to Pogust Goodhead, the firm leading the case on behalf of more than 400 000 Brazilian claimants. It will be the largest group litigation in English civil court history, the firm estimates. A BHP spokesman declined to comment.

Read More: BHP Says Vale Must Share Damage Cost in Disaster Suit

BHP recently requested that Brazilian miner Vale SA share liability should it lose the UK class action lawsuit. The case doesn’t name Vale even though the dam was run by Samarco, a joint-venture between the two mining companies. Vale said its legal advisors will carefully consider the details and submit their response in the appropriate time and manner.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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