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Mining company signs $7 billion settlement in Brazil disaster

Mining company signs $7 billion settlement in Brazil disaster

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Brazil's Vale signs $7 billion settlement in mining disaster

In this Jan. 27, 2019 photo, rescue workers in a helicopter search a flooded area after a dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Brazil. 

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian mining giant Vale signed a settlement deal on Thursday to pay $7 billion to the state of Minas Gerais, following the collapse of a dam two years ago that devastated the city of Brumadinho and killed more than 270 people.

The settlement is one of the largest ever realized in the country, Minas Gerais officials said in a statement.

The rupture of the dam at Vale’s iron ore mining complex on Jan. 25, 2019 unleashed a destructive torrent of mining waste, burying the equivalent of 300 soccer fields under thick mud. Minas Gerais officials said Thursday that 11 people are still missing.

“We know that we have a long way to go and we remain firm in our purpose,” Vale’s chief executive, Eduardo Bartolomeo, said in a statement.

About 30% of the total will go to Brumadinho, with funding for the families of victims, environmental projects and job creation. Some of the settlement money will also finance projects across the state, including public transport improvements and new infrastructure.

The dam had held back mining waste known as tailings that contained high levels of iron oxide. Once released, it polluted the nearby Paraopeba River, wrecking the livelihoods of many communities along the waterway.

In 2015, Vale was involved in another dam disaster in the city of Mariana, also in Minas Gerais state. In that incident, 19 people died and hundreds were forced to abandon their homes.

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