Almost eight years after the collapse of the Fundão dam, those affected throughout the Rio Doce basin are still fighting for fair, dignified and comprehensive reparations. Thus, on July 12 and 13, a representative group of affected people from the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo accompanied the hearing at the Technology and Construction Court in London with mining companies Vale and BHP Billiton.  

The hearing discussed BHP’s request to include Vale in the lawsuit filed in 2018 in the English court, in which BHP is a defendant. This case deals with the individual rights of more than 700,000 people affected. Both mining companies share control of Samarco, responsible for the Fundão dam that burst in 2015, resulting in the deaths of 19 people, the destruction of the Rio Doce Basin and entire communities in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. If BHP’s request is accepted, Vale could be held responsible for part of the compensation related to the crime. 

In 2022, with the aim of including BHP Billiton as co-responsible for the biggest socio-technological disaster in recent history – since it could not be tried in Brazil due to its headquarters being located in England at the time of the disaster – the law firm Pogust Goodhead, through actions by those affected, decided to reopen the case in the English courts. This action reinforces the demand for full justice in the case, with a specific focus on fair reparations for those affected. 

The judgment against BHP is scheduled for October 2024 and is already estimated at R$230 billion (US$44 billion or £36 billion), more than seven times the initial value of R$32 billion, when the lawsuit was filed in 2018, with around 200,000 people affected. In June of this year, England’s Supreme Court denied BHP’s request for permission to appeal the case. The compensation to be paid by BHP Billiton will be the largest in the world related to a case of this nature, given the size of the disaster and the damaging effects in all their different forms, from human to natural. 

Those affected are present in this struggle for justice in the reparations process and are following the case closely.