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Samarco dam to be reinforced: BHP

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Plans are underway to reinforce dam structures at the Samarco mine in Brazil following the deadly collapse of two dams, BHP Billiton boss Andrew Mackenzie says.

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Mackenzie says the mining giant, which part owns the Samarco iron ore mine with Brazil’s Vale, has a growing team on the ground including geotechnical, disaster relief and humanitarian response experts, senior health and safety executives, environmental scientists and support staff.

“They will be working with Samarco, the communities, local authorities and the team from Vale to determine what additional resources we can provide to support local authorities and Samarco’s response effort over the longer term,” he told analysts and investors.

“Samarco is continuing to monitor the impacted tailings facilities, including the Germano dam and, in conjunction with independent experts, is developing a plan to reinforce the dam structures and stabilise the area.”

BHP and Vale have set up an emergency fund to help the families of the nine people who died when two tailings dams burst and the resulting mudslide devastated a local village.

About 19 people are still missing.

Meanwhile, Samarco has promised to pay at least $260 million for environmental damage caused by the dam collapse.

The company signed a “preliminary commitment” to “guarantee payment for preventive emergency mitigation, repair or compensation measures” after the deadly November 5 disaster, the state prosecution service said in a statement on Monday.

Mackenzie said the Samarco mine’s operations will remain suspended while authorities start investigations and rectification work plans are developed.

– AAP/AFP

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