Brazil, Samarco deal to be announced on Monday: official

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s government and Samarco Mineracao SA [SAMNE.UL] will announce on Monday the settlement of a lawsuit for damages caused by a deadly dam spill at a mine in November, Brazilian Attorney General Luis Inacio Adams told Reuters on Friday.

An aerial view of the Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, at an area where the river joins the sea on the coast of Espirito Santo in Regencia Village, Brazil, November 23, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Officials and executives met on Friday to finalize the deal, which the attorney’s general office said was 95 percent complete.

“We should make the announcement on Monday,” Adams said in a text message.

Regarded as Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, the burst dam killed 19 people, forced hundreds to leave their homes and polluted one of the country’s main rivers.

On Thursday evening, Brazil's O Globo newspaper published a column saying Samarco, a joint venture between Vale VALE5.SA and BHP Billiton BLT.L, had committed to provide 4.4 billion reais ($1.1 billion) between 2016 and 2018 and additional funds for another seven years.

That would be much lower than the 20 billion reais the government was originally seeking when it first filed the lawsuit.

A source close to the negotiations confirmed the figures were being discussed but told Reuters nothing had been signed yet.

Samarco took the first step on Friday to resume operations in the area by requesting licensing to store mining tailings, said a Minas Gerais state environmental official.

BHP said earlier on Friday that significant progress had been made with the negotiations, and it was hopeful that an agreement would be reached.

“If and when that happens, an announcement will be made,” BHP said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

($1 = 3.9546 Brazilian reais)

Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle, Stephen Eisenhammer in Brasilia and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Joseph Radford, Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernard Orr