Silica class action settlement looms
Publish date: 13 February 2017
Issue Number: 714
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: South Africa
Six large South African mining companies could reach a settlement soon with thousands of workers made ill by working underground in gold mines in past decades, avoiding a lengthy court battle over compensation, according to Graham Briggs, chair of the occupational lung disease working group. A Business Day report says the companies – Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, African Rainbow Minerals, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Gold – are working hard with lawyers representing claimants in the class action lawsuit, unions and the departments of Mineral Resources, Health and Labour to find an out-of-court settlement. The collaboration of the three departments, the six companies, unions and lawyers to find a settlement gave rise to optimism that a settlement could be reached this year, said Briggs, the former Harmony CEO. ‘We don’t have a solution on the table yet, but I’m optimistic we are going to get there this year.’ The mining firms will set up a legacy fund to compensate workers made ill by inhaling silica dust during the mining of gold from quartz veins. The size of the legacy fund is unknown at this stage, Briggs said.