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Brazilian miner Vale posts US$12.1b loss in 2015

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Brazilian mining giant Vale said Thursday it lost US$12.13 billion last year due to lower prices for iron ore, the sharp depreciation of the real and a mining accident that killed 19 people.

In 2014, Vale had posted a profit of US$657 million, but last year the Brazilian currency fell 47 per cent against the dollar, inflating the company's debt, while revenue declined and the price of iron ore - Vale's main export product - dropped 43 per cent, finance director Luciano Siani said.

World prices of iron ore fell from US$96.7 per ton in 2014 to US$55.5 per ton in 2015, he added.

As for the deadly accident, a reservoir containing mining waste burst in November, releasing a torrent of toxic sludge that buried a village and killed 19 people.

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The government has called the accident the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history. The reservoir belonged to Samarco, which is jointly owned by Vale and Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton.

The government is negotiating huge compensation and cleanup payments with the mine owners.