Mining giant BHP Billiton is facing the prospect of a shareholder class action over the collapse of a dam at a mine in Brazil that killed 19 people.
The miner, which is dual-listed on the FTSE 100 and the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) with a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), operated the mine in a joint venture with Brazilian miner Vale.
Australian claimant law firm Phi Finney McDonald has said it is preparing to launch a shareholder class action over the disaster.
The firm alleges BHP “breached its continuous disclosure obligations and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct” over the safety of the mine.
The 2015 collapse released 60m cubic metres of waste waster, flooding the village of Bento Rodrigues and killing 19 people.
The firm said the disaster had a significant financial impact on BHP and caused a substantial loss of shareholder value.
Brett Spiegel, principal lawyer at Phi Finney McDonald said: “Conditions at the Fundao dam deteriorated to the point that BHP knew of the imminent risk that the dam would collapse. We allege that the company was also aware of the serious human, environmental, and financial consequences that would result. In our opinion, BHP breached its disclosure obligations by failing to disclose that risk to the market.”
The proposed class action is being backed by litigation funder G&E KTMC Funding.
BHP Billiton declined to comment.