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  • An aerial view shows the Doce River, which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst.

    An aerial view shows the Doce River, which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst. | Photo: Reuters

The Samarco mining disaster unleashed a massive mudslide of 12,000 Olympic swimming pools' worth of toxin-laden waste water.

Miner BHP Billiton Ltd., Vale SA and their jointly owned Samarco unit said on Thursday they have set a June 30 deadline to settle billions of dollars in compensation claims stemming from an iron ore mine disaster in Brazil in 2015.

The aim is to consolidate and settle separate claims, including a US$47.5 billion civil claim brought by Brazil's federal prosecutors last year, the companies said.

Under the agreement, BHP Billiton, Vale and Samarco will initially provide about US$681 million in total to support compensation and remediation from the impact of the fatal dam failure.

Operations at the Samarco mine were suspended in 2015 after the collapse of a dam holding mining waste, or tailings. The rupture killed 19 people, left hundreds homeless and caused Brazil's worst environmental disaster.

"This spells out how and when we are going to settle this with the prosecutors," BHP spokesman Paul Hitchins said.

The companies said any restart of operations at Samarco was subject to a separate set of negotiations with relevant parties and would occur only if it was deemed safe, economically viable and had the support of the local community.

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