Brazil mining company ordered to pay $30 mn fine

Rio de Janeiro, Nov 19 (EFE).- Brazilian mining company Samarco said Thursday it had been ordered by Minas Gerais state to pay a 112 million reais ($30 million) fine for environmental damage caused by the bursting of one of its tailings dams, a disaster that left at least 11 dead.

The rupture of the dam on Nov. 5 at the company’s Germano open-pit iron ore complex triggered an avalanche of 62 million cubic meters (2.2 billion cubic feet) of mud and toxic iron ore waste, according to the company, a joint venture of Brazilian mining giant Vale and Anglo-Australian mining titan BHP Billiton.

The sludge has spread to numerous municipalities in Minas Gerais and neighboring Espirito Santo and contaminated the Rio Doce, a major waterway in southeastern Brazil, thus severely affecting regional water supplies and causing incalculable damage to the river’s fauna.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Tuesday announced a series of measures to recover the riverine ecosystem, including a plan to “revitalize” the Rio Doce and recover species of flora and fauna.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira says it will take at least a decade to achieve the river’s full recovery.

Last Friday, a court in Minas Gerais ordered 300 million reais (some $78 million) of Samarco’s funds frozen to ensure payment of compensation to those affected by the disaster, which Brazil’s government has described as the worst dam rupture globally over the past decade.

Investigations are continuing to determine the cause of the dam rupture.

Seven of those killed in the mine disaster have been identified, while 12 people are listed as missing.

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