Brazil's government eyes compensation deal for 2015 Vale-BHP dam burst

Brazil's Institutional Relations Minister Alexandre Padilha talks during his inauguration ceremony at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's government will try to reach a deal "as soon as possible" on compensation for the 2015 burst of a tailings dam owned by Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP , Institutional Relations Minister Alexandre Padilha said on Friday.

In a news conference in Brasilia, Padilha said the matter had been discussed at a meeting with state governors earlier in the day.

The dam collapse in the southeastern city of Mariana killed 19 people and severely polluted the Rio Doce river, compromising the waterway all the way to its outlet in the Atlantic Ocean.

Padilha said President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's chief of staff would set up a meeting with the governments of Minas Gerais, where Mariana is located, and Espirito Santo, where the Doce river also flows, for further discussions.

The states are seeking compensation for the damage done by the disaster.

"We will try and reach this compensation agreement as soon as possible in light of the environmental crime that was committed in Mariana," Padilha said. "We want to speed up the final negotiations for this deal."

In late 2021, a study done by a company contracted by prosecutors showed the "socio-environmental" damage caused by the dam rupture was between 37.6 billion reais ($7.35 billion) and 60.6 billion reais ($11.85 billion).

($1 = 5.1126 reais)

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Isabel Woodford and Paul Simao)