The UK Court of Appeal has denied permission for a 200,000 person Brazilian claimant group to revive a £5bn lawsuit against BHP over Brazil’s worst environmental disaster.
The Anglo-Australian mining giant was responsible for the collapse of the Fundao mining dam in 2015, which led to 19 deaths and a flood of toxic mining waste which entered the Atlantic Ocean 400 miles away.
“We are both surprised and disappointed by this decision,” managing partner at law firm PGMBM which represented the claimants, Tom Goodhead, said.
The firm had hoped to appeal the High Court to strike out the claim last November.
“This is a sad day for the English justice system, as the courts dismiss a case based on size and complexity. It sends a poor message about corporate responsibility and legal consequences for wrongdoing,” he added.
The appeal court judge ruled that claimants were already making claims in Brazil, where a special compensation scheme was in place, and agreed with the High Court that the case would be “irredeemably unmanageable” if allowed to proceed further in the UK, PGMBM said in a statement.
The toxic waste from the collapse of the Fundao dam, owned by Samarco, a joint venture between BHP and Brazilian iron ore mining giant Vale, flooded communities and destroyed livelihoods.
The mass of waste material that made its way into the Doce river which contaminated drinking water, decimated fish numbers, and led to massive disruptions in ecosystems.