BHP “deeply sorry” for victims of Brazil mine accident

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Sydney (dpa) – Australian mining giant BHP Billiton said Thursday it was sorry for victims of a dam collapse in Brazil that killed 11 people, reports said.

The firm was “deeply sorry for all those who have been impacted” and pledged to review its operations around the globe, chairman Jac Nasser told shareholders at the annual general meeting in Melbourne, according to broadcaster ABC.

Another eight people were still missing, he said, after a dam holding back a tailing pond – containing a mixture of refuse material from ore processing and water – broke, sending the mud and sludge sweeping through the valley.

Around 600 people were evacuated by response teams, reports said. BHP has committed 363 million Australian dollars (260 million US dollars) to a rebuilding initiative.

A small group of protesters outside the meeting called on BHP, the largest mining company in the world, to answer questions about earlier warnings that the dam was unstable.

The company also cancelled its Christmas parties, including in the Melbourne office.

“Given the recent tragic events at the Samarco operations in Brazil, we have decided it would not be appropriate to continue with the end of year functions,” a spokeswoman told The Age newspaper.

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