/ 8 March 2016

NUM applauds landmark silicosis settlement with mining giants

Protesters call for mineworkers afflicted with silicosis to be compensated.
Protesters call for mineworkers afflicted with silicosis to be compensated.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Tuesday that it was “thrilled” that a landmark settlement had been reached between ex-mineworkers and Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti.

On Friday Anglo American Plc’s South African unit and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd agreed to settle some lung-disease claims for more than R500-million, Leigh Day, a UK-based law firm for the claimants said.

NUM said the multimillion-rand settlement marked a defining moment in the ex-miners’ “long-running legal battle” against the two mining companies.

The ex-miners, who suffer from silicosis, a lung fibrosis caused by the inhalation of dust containing silica breathed in during mining, took action against the mining companies.

“The overall value of the settlement is estimated to be more than R500-million. A total of R464-million will be paid into the Qhubeka Trust for distribution while a further amount will be paid to assist the Trust to enable payment of ODMWA (Occupational Diseases of Mines and Works Act) compensation to claimants who qualify for it,” NUM said.

“The NUM is very excited about the long-anticipated settlement as our decision six years ago to attend Anglo American AGMs in London for six years consecutively has finally borne fruits for the sufferers of silicosis as we have been adamant with the industry that a negotiated settlement is the way to go.

“Now that Anglo American and Anglo-gold Ashanti have paved the way, we hope that other Gold producers will follow suit and heed our call for an industry settlement because it must be about those bearing the brunt of suffering and lost dignity rather than pride or denialism and own up to their responsibility of ensuring that they retrieve their dignity as black African Mineworkers,” NUM said.

The union added that Anglo American and AngloGold would also fund the costs of the Trust and the medical evaluations.

NUM said it would continue with its robust engagements to convince others to contribute to the Trust and to avoid enriching legal firms.

This, NUM said, would ensure that affected miners benefited from the funds, and the workplace within the mining sector was transformed into safe and healthy environments. – African News Agency (ANA)