BRASILIA, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Brazil's environment minister Izabella Teixeira said on Wednesday the federal government is looking into possible federal fines the Samarco mining company would have to pay for what she called the worst "environmental catastrophe" in the state of Minas Gerais.
Neither authorities nor mine operator Samarco - a joint venture between the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton Ltd , and the biggest iron ore miner, Vale SA - have determined a cause for the rupture of two tailing pond dams that left 8 people dead and 21 missing.
"The impact is regional. If federal fines are applicable, we will apply them. We will be strict." she told reporters, adding: "There will be punishment, and under Brazilian law the environment has to be repaired." (Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)