Rio De Janeiro/Melbourne — Samarco and parent companies Vale and BHP Billiton have signed a deal with Brazilian authorities that settles a 20-billion reais ($5.30bn) lawsuit related to a 2015 dam burst that killed 19 people, Vale and BHP said on Monday. The agreement, signed by prosecutors from the federal government and the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, mandates improvements in governance for the Renova Foundation, created to help victims of the accident, Vale said. In a separate statement, BHP said the agreement set a two-year timeline to reach a settlement over a separate 155-billion reais lawsuit, which would remain suspended while the parties continued to negotiate. "It’s good that it moves along closer to a resolution obviously, and potentially caps some of the risk around [the settlement], given the earlier numbers that had been put out there," said portfolio manager Andy Forster of Sydney’s Argo Investments, which has holdings in BHP.

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