By Marta Nogueira
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Samarco Mineração SA is unlikely to win Brazilian government authorization to resume iron ore mining operations at the site of a dam burst that killed 19 people unless water leaks are permanently stopped, two environmental protection officials said on Wednesday.
Samarco, which is jointly owned by rival mining giants Vale SA and BHP Billiton Plc, needs to find a definitive solution for the leak of water with above-permitted turbidity levels from the mine in coming months, an official at the Minas Gerais state's environmental agency told Reuters. The mine is located in that state.
Samarco has already taken the first steps toward reopening the mine, applying for permission to use old mining pits to store tailings. A permit, however, will only be issued once the leak problem is fully resolved, the official said.
(Writing by Guillermo Parra-Bernal)