When BHP was hit last week by a $5bn damage claim over a deadly 2015 dam burst, the world’s biggest mining company found itself part of a significant trend. Although the lawsuit, filed by SPG Law on behalf of 235,000 Brazilian individuals and organisations, focuses on allegations that the Anglo-Australian miner disregarded safety warnings at the Samarco iron ore mine, the claims were filed in Liverpool. The UK filing comes only weeks after Britain’s highest court ruled that a group of Zambian villagers can sue Vedanta, a UK-based mining company over alleged pollution in the African country. The 1,800 villagers claim poisonous emissions from a mine owned by Konkola Copper Mines, a Vedanta subsidiary, damaged their health, livestock and drinking water. BHP and Vedanta say they intend to fight the claims. But both lawsuits are part of a larger effort to use well-developed court systems to hold multinational companies accountable for alleged bad behaviour overseas. The Zambian decision ...

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