Mariana disaster’s case reopens in UK courts

Victims of Mariana dam disaster protest. Photo: Rodrigo S Coelho/Shutterzsock
Victims of Mariana dam disaster protest. Photo: Rodrigo S. Coelho/Shutterzsock

The British Court of Appeal reopened a GBP 5 billion lawsuit this Tuesday against Anglo-Australian mining multinational BHP, deemed responsible for the Mariana tragedy in 2015 which caused 19 deaths and untold environmental damage in southeastern Brazil.

The case was reopened by a panel of judges “to avoid real injustices” after the High Court dropped the lawsuit last November and a first permission to appeal was denied by an appeals judge in March.

“Almost six years later, we are still living with the effects of what happened. BHP‘s empty efforts to redress [affected citizens] in Brazil have greatly disappointed us and the resumption of activity in the British court gives us an opportunity for effective justice,” stated Frederico de Assis Faria, who represents the plaintiffs. 

The lawsuit, which represents over 200,000 people and institutions — including 25 municipal governments, 600 companies, the Catholic Church, and indigenous people —  was filed last July by law firm PGMBM, made up of British, Brazilian, and American attorneys. They requested GBP 5 billion from BHP, one of the controllers of the Fundão tailings dam, as compensation for the Mariana disaster.