The charges also extend to certain employees and former employees of BHP Billiton.
This according to BHP Billiton, is following a statement from the Federal Prosecutors office indicating such.
The company says however that it is yet to receive formal notification of these proceedings.
“We will defend the charges against the company, and fully support each of the affected individuals in their defence of the charges against them,” says BHP Billiton.
The charges follow the largest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history when Samarco’s Fundão tailings dam failed on 5 November 2015 in a liquefaction flowslide that initiated at the dam’s left abutment.
In August, a panel’s findings revealed the outcome of a 10 month investigation and scientific analysis involving experienced geotechnical engineers and seismologists, led by Dr Norbert Morgenstern, a university professor of civil engineering and an authority in the field of geotechnical engineering.
The report stated that the failure of Samarco’s Fundão tailings dam by liquefaction flowsliding was the consequence of a chain of events and conditions that took place between 2009 and 2014.
A change in design brought about an increase in saturation which introduced the potential for liquefaction, however, as a result of various developments, soft slimes encroached into unintended areas on the left abutment of the dam and the embankment alignment was set back from its originally-planned location.