By Rhiannon Hoyle and Anthony O. Goriainoff


BHP Group Ltd., the world's biggest miner by market value, said roughly 500,000 new claimants have been added to a class action in the U.K. over a catastrophic dam failure in Brazil in 2015 that killed 19 people and polluted hundreds of miles of rivers in Brazil.

The Melbourne, Australia-based mining company said it would continue to defend the U.K. class action, which it said it believes is unnecessary because it duplicates legal proceedings in Brazil and work being undertaken by the Renova Foundation, established in 2016 to manage repairs and compensation following the sudden collapse of the Fundão Dam.

Pogust Goodhead, the U.K. legal firm leading the class action, said the total number of claimants involved in the class action is now more than 700,000, including 46 Brazilian municipalities and thousands of businesses and indigenous people. The firm, which says the class action is the world's largest, said it is seeking damages of around $44 billion, citing calculations "based on well-established principles of Brazilian and international law."

The Fundão Dam was owned and operated by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Brazil's Vale SA in which each mining giant has a 50% stake.

Pogust Goodhead filed the class action against BHP in the U.K. in 2018. In July 20222, the Court of Appeal in London decided the case could be heard in England, the firm said.

BHP had $3.12 billion set aside as a provision related to the dam failure on Dec. 31, 2022. Due to the status of the U.K. class action, BHP cannot project possible outcomes or give a reliable estimate of BHP's potential future exposure from the legal proceedings, the miner said late Wednesday in London.

The company said it filed its defense to the class action in December, 2022-denying the claims in their entirety-and that the further claim to add the roughly 500,000 additional claimants was filed on Feb. 25.

"Full details of the claims have not been received," the company said Wednesday.

The Fundão dam collapse put a global spotlight on how companies store the waste they produce during mining, known as tailings. In addition to the workers and local residents killed when the embankment burst, many people in communities below the dam were displaced.

Pogust Goodhead said people impacted by the disaster had not yet received full compensation from BHP. It said the next hearing of the case is scheduled for later this month in the High Court in London and that the case could proceed to trial in April, 2024, if a settlement is not agreed.

BHP said all claimants "have avenues in Brazil to resolve any potential claims including avenues established through the Brazilian courts." It said the Renova Foundation had spent about $5.9 billion on remediation and compensation programs to Dec. 31, 2022.


Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at and Anthony O. Goriainoff at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 15, 2023 19:18 ET (23:18 GMT)

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