August 1, 2019 / 3:15 PM / 4 months ago

Vale CEO hopes to wrap up global dam-burst settlement by year-end

A helmet with a logo of Vale SA is seen in a collapsed tailings dam owned by the company, in Brumadinho, Brazil February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Washington Alves

RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s Vale SA (VALE3.SA) hopes to wrap up a global compensation settlement for victims of its deadly January dam burst by year-end, its chief financial officer said on Thursday, a day after the company announced $2 billion in related charges.

That came in addition to nearly $5 billion (£4.13 billion) in first-quarter charges the iron ore miner has previously disclosed. It remains unclear whether the writedowns taken so far would cover such a victims’ settlement.

Vale has been trying to ramp up production after several of its mines were shuttered as prosecutors and regulators scrambled to avoid a recurrence of the collapse of the Brumadinho dam, which killed nearly 248 people.

Speaking during a conference call with investors, Chief Executive Eduardo Bartolomeo emphasized that the company was trying to focus on safety and reconstruction and that it was too early to talk about resumption of dividend payments.

He reiterated Vale’s prior forecast for a resumption of production at its Samarco joint venture with BHP Group in the second half of next year. Samarco has been closed since another deadly dam disaster in 2015.

On Wednesday, Vale reported a $133 million quarterly loss, confounding analysts expectations of a $2.84 billion profit for the period.

Shares were down 1.9% in late morning trading in Sao Paulo.

Earlier on the call, the chief financial officer, Luciano Siani, said Vale now has an annual iron ore capacity of between 340 million and 345 million tonnes, and added he expected strong copper and nickel output in the second half of the year.

Vale, the world’s largest iron ore exporter, has seen its production of the steel-making raw material fall steeply since the Brumadinho disaster.

Reporting by Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro and Christian Plumb in Sao Paulo; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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