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Semarco mine won’t reopen this year, BHP says

BHP Billiton has said it was unlikely the Samarco iron ore mine would reopen, after the tragic events in November 2015 when two dam bursts.

“Samarco makes an important contribution to the national economy and the livelihoods of thousands of people but Samarco’s operations will restart only when it is safe to do so, and when all regulatory approvals are granted and accepted by the relevant authorities and communities,” the statement read.

“Samarco has commenced discussions with employees to adjust the workforce in line with expected production levels, as outlined in Samarco’s plans for the mine that are progressing through the relevant approvals. This is expected to see around 40 per cent of the workforce choose to accept voluntary redundancies.”

BHP Billton’s chief commercial officer Dean Dalla Valle has been overseeing BHP Billiton Brasil LTDA’s (BHP Billiton Brasil) support for Samarco in its response to the tragedy and said he has been encouraged by the progress of efforts to remediate and restore the impacts of the dam failure.

“Samarco employees and members of affected communities have been working incredibly hard to deliver the remediation projects in the Framework Agreement and over 90 per cent of the projects have been initiated,” he said.

“There is still much to be done to rebuild and restore but we believe that working with Vale, Samarco and the Brazilian authorities we will be able to deliver on the commitments under the Agreement and we will do what’s right.

“We believe the Framework Agreement sets out the best way forward to respond to this tragedy and BHP Billiton Brasil will continue to consult with affected communities and authorities and provide updates on the progress.”

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