(Corrects paragraphs 1 and 3. Vale now says it understands the ruling to mean it cannot sell or transfer mining rights, rather than banning it from extracting iron ore)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Brazilian mining company Vale SA said on Monday its mining operations were continuing as normal and it still had not been notified of a court ruling on Friday to block the transfer or sale of mining rights after a deadly dam burst last month.
On Sunday, Vale, the world’s largest producer of iron ore, said in a statement it was aware of the court decision and will appeal when it is officially notified.
The ruling, according to Vale, bans it from transferring or selling mining rights, but does not effect production.
The judge ruled that Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP Billiton which operated the mine where the dam breach occurred, did not have the funds to pay for the 20 billion reais ($5.03 billion) sought by the government in damages. The owners must consequently share responsibility for the accident.
BHP said on Monday it had also not been notified of the decision.
The decision is available on the court’s online database but the companies do not have to abide by the ruling until they are officially notified.
The dam burst, which turned into Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster, killed 16 people, left hundreds homeless and polluted a river 800 km (500 miles) long that flows across two states. (Reporting by Marta Nogueira; and Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Phil Berlowitz)