Mining industry welcomes R5bn settlement in silicosis class action

Picture is for illustrative purposes only.

Picture is for illustrative purposes only.

SA Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter said while this was an historic outcome, the next steps in the process were even more important.

The Minerals Council South Africa has welcomed the judgment handed down in the South Gauteng High Court approving the settlement of the silicosis and tuberculous class action suit.

The high court in Johannesburg on Friday approved a R5 billion settlement agreement between gold mining companies and thousands of mineworkers who contracted lung diseases, and their dependents.

The agreement between the claimants who contracted silicosis and tuberculosis and the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, representing African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwater, was reached last year but was subject to court approval.

Roger Baxter, chief executive of Minerals Council, said the settlement agreement was a product of more than four years of engagement between the parties, including many entities in South Africa and other SADC (Southern African Development Community) governments, NGOs, and others.

“The Minerals Council has been an integral part of the broader process, especially in ensuring that the current compensation systems that fall under the Medical Bureau of Occupational Disease (MBOD) receive additional financial and in-kind support,” Baxter said.

“The Minerals Council would like to congratulate the parties to the settlement agreement on their collaborative and problem-solving approach, knowing that it was critical that the outcome needed to consider the needs of the potential claimants and the sustainability of the industry.”

In terms of the agreement a trust will be set up to benefit 10 classes of claimants. Affected miners and their families will receive between R70,000 and R500,000 depending on which class they fall under.

Baxter said while this was an historic outcome, the next steps in the process were even more important.

These include continuing to ensure that no employees contract silicosis, and the intensive programmes to identify and treat TB, ensuring that the statutory compensation that has always been available to former mineworkers under the MBOD was accessible and paid timeously, and others.

Baxter said the Minerals Council, which represents about 90 percent of mining companies, was looking forward to continuing to play a proactive and constructive role in these processes.

African News Agency (ANA)

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