Mining Health & Safety: BHP Says Samarco Tailings ‘Not Hazardous to Human Health’

Samarco desaster
The Doce river, flooded with toxic mud afetr a mining dam collapse, flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (ASX:BHP,NYSE:BHP,LSE:BLT) released an update on the recent tailings and water dam breaches at the Samarco Mineracao SA iron ore operation. The company holds a 50-percent interest in Samarco, as does Vale SA (NYSE:VALE).

According to BHP, tailings material released as part of those breaches “is considered to be non-reactive and would be geochemically stable when introduced to the river system or ocean.” The material is also “composed of materials that are not hazardous to human health, based on the hazard classification of the material under Brazilian standards.”

As quoted in the press release:

Samarco has advised that, at this stage, there are 13 fatalities and six people who remain unaccounted for. Emergency services continue to search for the six missing people.

Samarco continues to work with the Government authorities in Brazil to relocate displaced people from temporary accommodation to rented housing. Relocation is expected to be completed in February 2016.

Clean-up work has commenced in the Barra Longa area, focusing on access roads, housing and bridge repairs.

Monitoring of the remaining dam structures at Samarco continues. Interim work to repair the damage to the dams and to reinforce parts of the structure has commenced. Operations at Samarco remain suspended.

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