SYDNEY, July 14 (Reuters) - BHP Billiton said the Samarco iron ore operation in Brazil was unlikely to restart this year, with discussions taking place to reduce the workforce by 40 percent through voluntary redundancies.
"Samarco has confirmed it is unlikely to have in place the necessary approvals to restart its operations in this calendar year," BHP, a 50-50 owner of Samarco with Vale, said in a statement.
A burst tailings dam at the Samarco mine on Nov. 5 unleashed a mudflow that killed 19 people, left hundreds homeless and polluted a major river. The mine has been closed since then.
Reporting by James Regan