Gold companies to appeal class action over silicosis

Major South African gold mining companies will appeal the court decision allowing nearly half a million current and former workers in the country to seek compensation after contracting lung diseases.

The class action suit, the largest ever to proceed in the country, enabled 30 companies to be sued for the diseases, with the judge adding that those who died from the diseases could have their families receive damages.

It was first filed in 2012 and claims the companies named knew the dangers silica dust had on miners for more than a century.

Companies including AngloGold Ashanti and Harmony Gold formed the Occupational Lung Disease (OLD) Working Group last year to tackle compensation and medical care for those who developed occupational lung diseases (silicosis).

The group said that individual applications were filed by each of its members to appeal the May ruling, adding that they each sought a settlement with the affected workers.

“Whilst the companies deny liability for the claims, it is nonetheless the working group’s view that a fair and sustainable settlement is preferable to long and protracted litigation,” the group said, according to Reuters.

Max Ebrahim, an insurance partner at Clyde and Co. law firm said, “Assuming a conservative claim of $6500 per claimant, this approximates claims in the total amount of $3.25 billion.”

Despite Anglo American no longer having interests in gold mining and African Rainbow Minerals no longer operating gold mines, they are included in the suits as the claims go back for decades.

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