WASHINGTON - Asarco LLC has reached settlements worth $27.8 million with people in three states who demanded more than $1 billion from the copper-mining company for personal-injury and property damages.
Nearly $21 million of the settlement offers will be awarded to claims related to the Tar Creek Superfund site.
Asarco has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Corpus Christi, Texas, to approve the settlements, which will resolve more than 500 claims for damages that have been filed against the company.
The agreements are part of Asarco's ongoing effort in its bankruptcy case to resolve demands from the federal government, states and individuals for billions of dollars in damages ranging from environmental contamination to asbestos-related injuries.
The latest settlements are tied to the mining company's operations in Hayden, Ariz., the Tar Creek Superfund site in Oklahoma and El Paso, Texas, according to court papers filed Wednesday. The agreements follow mediation sessions that were held in October.
Those seeking damages from Asarco will receive general unsecured claims against the company that will be paid after Asarco emerges from bankruptcy protection.
The actual amount of money that claimants will receive will depend on the company's bankruptcy-exit plan.
Asarco, based in Tucson, Ariz., said the settlements should be approved because undergoing court proceedings to estimate and approve the claims “is time-consuming, complex and could unduly delay” its reorganization.
Asarco has been in bankruptcy since August 2005.
According to court documents, Asarco has agreed to a $20.7 million unsecured claim to resolve 220 claims connected to its Tar Creek operation.
More than 270 people who filed claims for damages stemming from the Hayden, Ariz., smelter will receive a $4.8 million unsecured claim.
Asarco will also give a $2.3 million unsecured claim to 51 people in El Paso, Texas.