RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Samarco, a joint mining venture between Brazil’s Vale and BHP Billiton, could resume production at a third of its capacity at the beginning of 2020, Vale’s chief executive said on Tuesday.
Samarco halted operations in late 2015 after one of its dams collapsed, killing 19 people and causing one of Brazil’s worst ever environmental disasters. The incident happened when the dam, designed to hold back mine waste from the Samarco iron pellets operation in Mariana, burst and unleashed a trail of destruction across hundreds of kilometers in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo states.
In August, a BHP representative said the company saw little likelihood of Samarco resuming operations next year, although it was expected to receive all the required licenses.
At an event in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, however, Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman said “all indications are that there will be no problems and that, by the beginning of 2020, all issues will be overcome and it will be possible to resume operations.”
Earlier this month, Brazilian prosecutors in Minas Gerais state said they reached a final compensation deal with Samarco over the mining disaster.
Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Editing by Tom Brown