UPDATE 1-Samarco, Brazil gov't move closer on $4.8 bln dam-disaster accord

jueves 21 de enero de 2016 19:18 GYT

(Adds government, Samarco comments, preliminary plan details, background on disaster and lawsuit)

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA Jan 21 (Reuters) - Brazil's government and Samarco Mineração SA moved closer to a deal to settle a 20 billion-real ($4.8 billion) lawsuit for damages related to a deadly November dam disaster, Brazil's attorney general said on Thursday.

The two sides met in Brasilia on Thursday and talks have "advanced significantly" with the likelihood that the outline of an accord can be completed by early February, Attorney General Luis Inacio Adams told reporters after the meeting.

Brazil sued Samarco, a 50-50 joint venture between Brazil's Vale SA and Australia's BHP Billiton Ltd, for 20 billion reais ($4.8 billion) after an iron ore tailings dam burst. The resulting tsunami of mud roared through river valleys in two states, killing at least 17 and dumping mine waste as far away as the Atlantic Ocean.

It is considered Brazil's biggest-ever environmental disaster. Samarco has been shut down since the dam burst.

"Negotiation of the agreement is under way and we made considerable progress today," Adams said. "We agreed on the actions that have to be carried out. There was convergence between the companies and federal and state governments on what has to be done."

If agreement is reached and financing is provided for 38 actions agreed to on Thursday to resolve the social and environment impact of the disaster, Samarco would be allowed to restart operations, Adams said.

Work should take up to 10 years and Samarco will not have to pay all at once, Adams added, saying Vale and BHP would have to guarantee Samarco's financial commitment to the recovery plan.   Continuación...