RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Brazilian iron ore miner Samarco has told unions it needs to cut 600 workers by December, the joint venture between Brazil’s Vale SA and Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton Ltd said in a statement on Friday.

Samarco said it would resume talks with unions Metabase Mariana and Sindimental on Friday following Thursday meetings on the need to reduce staff to 1,135 from 1,735.

Samarco’s operations were halted two years ago after a tailings dam burst, killing 19 people and unleashing Brazil’s worst environmental disaster ever.

Samarco reiterated that there is still no forecast for when mining may be resumed but said that any restart would be gradual and begin at 26 percent capacity.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Steve Orlofsky).

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