The charges come just weeks before the one-year anniversary of the dam collapse, which killed 19 local villagers and is considered to be Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
The Prosecutor told reporters that executives at Samarco had clear awareness the dam could fail but ignored the risks and prioritised profit. He alleged there were signs that the dam was unsafe for several years before its collapse, but Samarco officials, executives, employees and board members appointed by Vale and BHP failed to take proper action.
Prosecutors also said safety and regulatory procedures were not properly followed, including those in the company’s own operating manual.
BHP, Vale, Samarco and Brazilian engineering company VOGBR Recursos Hidricas e Geotechnica, which certified the dam’s safety, have been charged with environmental crimes.
Vale, BHP and Samarco agreed in March to pay an estimated 20 billion reais ($8.3 billion) over 15 years in civil damages, but the accord is being challenged by state prosecutors.
Mining company fined over workers injury
A West Australian gold company has been fined $95,000 over an incident in which a worker’s legs were crushed by falling large rocks and he was lucky not to be killed. He was caught underneath a rock fall which caused multiple crush injuries to both of his lower legs, including serious fractures to his right leg.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum had found the organization had put the worker in a dangerous situation in which he “could easily have been killed” by not securing the area above him or adequately conducting safety training,
The department’s investigation also identified the worker a was not adequately trained or given sufficient information to be able to identify whether or not it was safe to work in that section of the ore drive,”