Anglo American South Africa has resolved to settle a portion of the silicosis claims it faces in South Africa. The move may open the floodgates for many other silicosis claimants even though Anglo said it has settled without admission of liability.
In a statement released today Anglo said it “has concluded an agreement which resolves fully and finally 23 stand-alone silicosis claims, instituted against it between 2004 and 2009. The settlement has been reached without admission of liability by AASA and the terms of the agreement remain confidential”.
Anglo and other gold miners in South Africa face possible class action from multitudes of former workers who claim to have acquired the respiratory disease, silicosis. Gold mining workers dating back to about 50 years ago claim that they acquired the disease caused by excessive dust exposure in the mines.
Thousands of these workers who have since left the employ of major mining companies have been struggling with the disease without assistance. Their cause has been picked up by lawyers and there are different cases at different stages of establishing class action.
The Anglo statement noted that “AASA is just one of a number of companies facing class action litigation in the High Court involving some thousands of former mine workers. This litigation is separate to that brought by the claimants in today’s settlement. AASA denies any liability and will continue to defend the class action proceedings”.
In one case pursued by human rights lawyer Richard Spoor, in partnership with US based plaintiffs’ law firm, Motley Rice LLC, former gold mineworkers have squared up against 30 companies. These include Harmony Gold, Avgold, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Village Main Reef, Simmer and Jack Mines, DRDGold, ERPM, Anglo American, African Rainbow Minerals, Randgold and Exploration Company, JCI and their subsidiaries.
Khanyisile Kweyama, Executive Director of Anglo American South Africa, said “AASA believes that agreeing to settle this long-standing litigation is in the best interests of the plaintiffs, their families, AASA and its wider stakeholders. We continue to work with industry, government and civil society to tackle the many challenges of primary health care in South Africa. Our collective objective is to significantly improve the access and quality of care available to all South Africans as well as ensuring a healthy and safe working environment for all our employees.”