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UPDATE 2-Brazil's Vale expects to pay out $1.5 billion for Brumadinho repairs

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(Adds information on lawsuit) RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Brazilian miner Vale plans to spend about 7.8 billion reais ($1.53 billion) this year on repairs related to the deadly collapse of a tailings dam in the mining town of Brumadinho, a company executive told Reuters on Wednesday. The spending plan comes on the same day that Brazil's Supreme Court ordered lower courts to immediately start processing a lawsuit that aims to establish who was responsible for the nearly four-year-old disaster, citing a fast approaching legal deadline. One of Brazil's worst mining disasters in years, the rupture unleashed a wave of mud killing 270 people, while damaging homes, forests and rivers. Marcelo Klein, Vale's reparations and territorial development head, said that 3.9 billion reais of the spending plan will be applied to a deal reached with authorities, while 1.9 billion will go to the miner's own projects. The remaining 2 billion will be spent on tailings management, monitoring, infrastructure renovation and maintenance, studies and project development, added Klein. "We can clearly see a slowdown in the payment of repairs," he said, describing the slower pace as normal given how much time has passed since the incident. Disbursements last year totaled around 10.2 billion reais. Klein's remarks follow a ruling from Chief Justice Rosa Weber ordering a lawsuit investigating those responsible for the disaster to proceed. "There was an imminent risk of the statute of limitations expiring for all charges whose maximum penalty doesn't exceed two years," the court said in a statement. In early 2020, prosecutors in the state of Minas Gerais charged former Vale CEO Fabio Schvartsman and 15 other people with homicide for the dam disaster. But later that year a court ruled the case should proceed through slower federal courts rather than state tribunals, a decision upheld by the Supreme Court.
($1 = 5.0959 reais) (Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Editing by Steven Grattan and Aurora Ellis)

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