BHP Billiton has rejected the charges against it regarding the Samarco Mineracao mine disaster in Brazil in November 2015.
The world's biggest miner noted the statement from the Brazilian Federal Prosecution Office that it had filed criminal charges against BHP Billiton, before the Federal Courts of Ponte Nova, Minas Gerais.
And though it was yet to receive formal notification of the proceedings, BHP issued a bullish statement:
"BHP Billiton Brasil rejects outright the charges against the company and the affected individuals. We will defend the charges against the company, and fully support each of the affected individuals in their defence of the charges against them."
In November last year, 19 people were killed after a dam owned by the firm, and local company Vale, burst at Samarco Mineracao mine in Brazil. It was announced in August that BHP's chief executive Andrew Mackenzie would have his bonus scrapped this year, after that dam collapse and the ongoing decline in global commodity markets.
It was reported in May that Vale and BHP Billiton were facing one of Brazil’s largest-ever civil lawsuits after prosecutors demanded R$155bn ($44bn) in damages for the deadly dam collapse at their mine last year.
At the time federal prosecutors suggested that the value of the damages claim was based on the clean-up costs of the comparable BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
"Preliminary studies show the human, economic and socio-environmental impacts of the collapse of the dam are, at least, equivalent to those verified in the Gulf of Mexico," prosecutors said in a statement.
Vale and BHP had settled a R$20bn lawsuit with the federal and state governments in March over the collapse of the Samarco's dam. But Brazil's independent prosecutors criticised the government for "selling out" and sought more compensation.
It was announced earlier today that BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser was stepping down at the end of the year, following a seven year tenure.