Brazil judge suspends $50B dam disaster lawsuit

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian judge suspended a nearly $50 billion lawsuit against mining firms responsible for the 2015 Samarco disaster Thursday, as negotiations between the companies and authorities moved forward.

The decision came as part of a ruling in which federal judge Mário de Paula Franco Júnior approved a road map toward a final agreement between prosecutors and mining companies Vale SA, BHP Billiton Ltd. and their joint-venture Samarco Mineração SA.

Federal prosecutors, regulatory agencies and the three companies have been locked in fierce litigation since Samarco’s Fundão tailings dam collapsed on Nov. 5, 2015, releasing an avalanche of mine waste. The incident is widely considered Brazil’s…