Brazilian Miner Samarco Files U.S. Bankruptcy After Creditors Sue

Brazilian iron ore miner Samarco Mineração SA filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection Monday, after initiating similar proceedings in Brazil earlier this month amid mounting creditor litigation, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. Samarco needed to seek protection under chapter 15 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, as well as Brazilian insolvency laws, after bondholders and bank lenders filed lawsuits in both countries to freeze and start the process of seizing the company’s assets, according to a sworn declaration by Chief Financial Officer Cristina Morgan Cavalcanti. One of the largest miners in the world, Samarco resumed operations in December, according to court filings, after ceasing operations in 2015 after the collapse of the Fundão dam in the municipality of Mariana, in Minas Gerais state. The dam failure killed 19 people and led to an environmental disaster that released a torrent of sludge that buried rural villages. The company, a joint venture between mining giants Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd., stopped making payments on its financial debt in 2016, including more than $4.6 billion in debt denominated in dollars to banks and bondholders, according to Ms. Cavalcanti. Beyond Samarco’s dollar debt, the company also has significant debt denominated in Brazilian reais, including obligations to owners BHP and Vale. Read more.