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As you know there has been a terrible incident at the Samarco iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, in south-east Brazil.

First and foremost, our thoughts are with the Samarco employees, contractors, their families and the local community of Bento Rodrigues that has been devastated by the flooding. 

We are deeply concerned for their welfare. 

We still don’t know the full extent of the situation, but we are working closely with Samarco, and with Vale, to better understand the circumstances. 

I have spoken to the CEO of Vale, Murilo Ferreira, and Jimmy Wilson, our President of Iron Ore has been speaking with his equivalent in Vale, Peter Poppinga, as well as the CEO of Samarco, Ricardo Vescovi De Aragao.

We have also offered our full assistance to the Samarco team, and the local authorities, to manage the immediate rescue efforts and help first with the clean-up and then the investigation.

BHP Billiton and Vale are 50 per cent shareholders in the Brazilian company and joint venture, Samarco. 

As the operator, Samarco will continue to lead the more detailed communications and provide updates on the incident and the state of the operations. 

It is very important to me, and to all of employees and shareholders of BHP Billiton, that we speak today and offer our sympathies to the people of Minas Gerais.

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