Samarco Compensation Deal Said to Be Signed Monday in Brazil

  • Agreement would end weeks of negotiations over damages
  • Rupture killed at least 17 people and polluted waterways

A compensation package for the Samarco tailings dam spill in Brazil is scheduled to be signed on Monday as authorities and the mine owners hammer out final details, said a person with direct knowledge of the talks.

The agreement would end weeks of negotiations and be a key step in the joint venture -- owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd. -- eventually resuming operations that were halted after the Nov. 5 rupture killed at least 17 people and polluted waterways.

Samarco will pay an estimated 4.4 billion reais ($1.1 billion) in the first three years, with subsequent payments to be determined by program needs, the person said, asking not to be identified because talks are private. The accord will cover costs of 39 social and environmental programs, rather than paying a set amount of 20 billion reais that was originally sought.

The attorney-general’s office, known as AGU, confirmed in an e-mailed statement that talks were being held on Friday but said no date had been fixed for release of the final document. BHP said significant progress had been made and that the company is hopeful an agreement will be reached. Rio de Janeiro-based Vale declined to comment.

Samarco, which was the world’s second-largest producer of iron-ore pellets, had an annualized output rate of about 30 million metric tons in September.

The venture’s bonds due 2022 were little changed on Friday at 43 cents on the dollar. Before the dam collapse, the notes traded above 80 cents.

In December, Vale Chief Financial Officer Luciano Siani Pires told investors that the best way to settle all the claims would be to have Samarco back into operations.

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