THE first payments to miners who contracted the fatal lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis from a R5bn class action settlement by gold producers are expected in the second quarter of 2020, a lawyer for the companies told Reuters.
The most far-reaching class action settlement ever reached in South Africa followed a long legal battle by miners to win compensation for illnesses they say they contracted over decades because of negligence in health and safety.
The agreement was between the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, an organisation representing gold mining firms, such as AngloGold Ashanti, as well as other miners such as Anglo American and African Rainbow Minerals, and settlement classes’ representatives as well as the settlement classes’ attorneys Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz Inc and the Legal Resources Centre.
The exact number of eligible claimants is unknown but is expected to be less than 100,000, attorney Michael Murray told a mining industry conference, the Mining Indaba, in Cape Town.
The class action suit was launched in 2012 on behalf of miners suffering from silicosis, an incurable disease caused by inhaling silica dust from gold-bearing rocks, and a settlement was agreed by mining firms in 2018.
It causes shortness of breath, a persistent cough and chest pains, and makes people highly susceptible to tuberculosis, said Reuters.
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