(FT) Dilma Rousseff compares Samarco dam tragedy to BP oil spill

(FT) Dilma Rousseff on Thursday toughened her rhetoric against the companies involved in the Samarco iron ore dam disaster, comparing it with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Brazil’s president, who on Thursday flew over the site of last week’s disaster, told the heads of Samarco’s controlling shareholders — BHP Billiton, the Anglo-Australian resources company, and the Brazilian iron ore exporter Vale — that Samarco would pay for the accident.

“The president very firmly emphasised the responsibility of the mining company [Samarco],” said Gilberto Occhi, minister for national integration, adding that Ms Rousseff had conveyed the message in telephone conversations with Andrew Mackenzie, BHP Billiton’s chief executive, and Murilo Ferreira, chief executive of Vale.

Mr Occhi said the government would impose “a model of reparations for damages and punitive measures similar to that in the US after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010”. The president later told Reuters television that the estimated environmental fines imposed on the company would be R$250m ($66m).

The Samarco disaster, with eight bodies found so far and 19 people missing, occurred when two dams burst·at iron ore miner’s operations in Mariana, in Minas Gerais state, southeastern Brazil.Dilma-Rousseff-compares-Samarco-dam-tragedy-to-BP-oil-spill-FT