BHP's share price has sunk to GFC levels

An iron ore train in Brazil. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

BHP’s share price today dropped to a level not seen since the GFC.

The world’s biggest miner today updated the market on last week’s fatal mine disaster in Brazil, saying the waste from the breached tailings dam now extends 440km downstream, affecting 11 communities.

The shares went below $20 for the first time since 2008, falling to $19.85 before recovering. A short time ago, BHP was trading at $20.17, a 2.14% fall on the day.

BHP has lost more than 15% in value since news of the disaster at the 50% owned Samarco iron ore mine reached Australia last Friday morning. Vale is the owner of the other half.

The disaster could strip about 4% from BHP’s profits and add about $US1.5 billion to the company’s debt.

So far nine are confirmed to have died after a waste water dam broke sending a wall of mud into a local village. Four people previously unaccounted for have been found and 19 people are still missing.

Local authorities say 637 people have been evacuated.

“BHP Billiton and Vale have pledged to support Samarco in establishing an emergency fund for community support and rebuilding works,” BHP said in a statement.

BHP Billiton and Vale are meeting with lead insurers in Brazil this week.

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