Failure of a tailings dam at Bento Rodrigues in Brazil has been reported to have killed 15 people and a further 45 are reported missing.
The Fundão dam at the Germano iron ore mine operated by Samarco, which is jointly owned by BHP and Vale, failed at dusk on 5 November.
The failure led to mudslides that have affected Bento Rodrigues.
Samarco has said that it has four dam structures at the site that are licenced under the regional environmental regulations. The last inspection was carried out in July this year and were given a clean bill of health.
Samarco has said that the tailings are inert and represent no threat to human health.
Samarco shareholder BHP has said that it is working with shareholder partner Vale and Samarco to offer full assistance to the local authorities. “At the moment this assistance is focused on rescue but will continue as efforts on site move to the clean up and the investigation into the cause,” said BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie.