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Brazilian prosecutors have filed charges including homicide against 22 people, among them executives at miners BHP Billiton and Vale, in connection with the deaths of 19 people when a dam collapsed last year.
The charges in connection with the disaster at Samarco, an iron ore producer in Brazil jointly owned by Vale and BHP, raise the stakes for the two global miners almost 12 months after the disaster.
All but one of the individuals face homicide charges. Vale, and BHP’s Brazilian subsidiary, are also charged. Samarco and a consulting firm also face charges, Brazilian prosecutors said.
BHP said in a statement that its Brazilian unit “rejects outright the charges against the company and the affected Individuals”. Vale also said it vehemently rejected the charges.
The charges cover eight current or former BHP employees including Jimmy Wilson, who ran BHP’s iron ore business and was on Samarco’s board at the time of the disaster. He has subsequently left BHP.
Peter Poppinga, the head of Vale’s ferrous business, is also among those charged, as well as Ricardo Vescovi, Samarco’s chief executive at the time of the accident.