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Brazil Seeks $44 Billion in Suit Over Spill at BHP-Vale Dam

  • Prosecutors demand initial payment of $2.2 billion in 30 days
  • Suit has 200-plus claims of environmental, economic damages
Aerial view of damages after a dam burst in the village of Bento Rodrigues, in Mariana, Minas Gerais state, Brazil on November 6, 2015. A dam burst at a mining waste site unleashing a deluge of thick, red toxic mud that smothered a village killing at least 17 people and injuring some 75. The mining company Samarco, which operates the site, is jointly owned by two mining giants, Vale of Brazil and BHP Billiton of Australia. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON (Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images)
Photographer: CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images
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Brazilian prosecutors filed a 155 billion reais ($44 billion) civil suit against Vale SA, BHP Billiton Ltd. and their iron-ore venture over a November dam rupture that killed as many as 19 people and caused severe environmental damage. 

The prosecuting task force is demanding the two companies and Samarco Mineracao SA provide initial payment of 7.8 billion reais within 30 days, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office. The civil suit, which challenges a previous agreement the companies signed with federal and state governments, probably will result in a much lower settlement, according to Bank of America Corp. analysts.