BHP will use the lessons from the fatal Samarco dam failure to build safer mines

Rebuilding at the Samarco mine in Brazil. Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

The lessons learned from the fatal mine disaster at Samarco in Brazil will be used by BHP to create a new global tailings dam standard.

The iron ore mine’s tailings dam collapsed on November 5, 2015, sending a wave of mud downstream, killing 19 people, including five from a village of 12 working at the mine.

“The Samarco dam failure weighs heavily on all of us,” BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie told the company’s AGM in Brisbane today.

“The terrible events that led to the loss of 19 lives and caused significant community and environmental impacts have left a deep scar on our company.”

Mackenzie went to Brazil soon after the disaster last November and again in June.

“As CEO I am determined that the experience and knowledge gained will be used to improve the safety of tailings dams through greater use of the world’s best science and engineering,” he says. “We will use this to lift the performance of our own operations.”

BHP is creating a new global tailings dam standard, draw on international leading practice for the design, construction, operation and maintenance.

He says they are working with joint venture partner Vale on plans for to restart the iron ore mine.

“We will also continue to do whatever it takes to look after our people who are in Brazil, to deliver on our commitments, as they do the right thing for the communities and the environment affected by this terrible disaster,” he says.

BHP in August posted a loss of $US6.385 billion ($A8.28 billion) for the full year to June, its biggest in history, and cut dividends as weaker global commodity prices shrink the flow of cash to the world’s biggest miner.

The loss includes $US2.2 billion ($A2.8 billion) for the impact of the Samarco dam failure.

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