Class Action lawsuit against Mining Companies in South Africa

A case against 32 mining companies could become the largest class action lawsuit in South Africa, and the continent, should the outcome of the current litigation allow.[1] 100,000 mine workers are suing 32 mining companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Goldfields, and Anglo American for compensation in relation to the contraction of silicosis and TB as a result of inadequate protection provided by the mines. [2] The case began in Johannesburg on Monday the 12th October.

Previous silicosis cases have been brought against mining companies, but these have been on an individual basis[3]. This would be the first that the miners would to be able to lodge the action as a group rather than individuals. This decision is critical for many of the miners as they are likley to be unable to afford to bring charges forward as individuals, or are too sick to bring forward charges themselves. [4]

The claimants will have worked for the mines between the period 1965 and 2005, many of the claimants are now over 70  years of age. It is estimated that up to a quarter of those working over this period have contracted silicosis or TB.[5] The courtcase was first filed in 2012 and it has taken this long to get a court date for decision on the class action, should the rest of the process drag out for years it is likely that the medical care and compensation that is claimed will comes too late for some. In a related case, Anglo American was awarded the ‚golden snail’ from Action for Southern Africa for dragging its heels in relation to providing compensation to silicosis miners.[6] It is hoped that this case will move along faster.

Court papers suggest that „”196 000 gold mineworkers in South Africa and 84 000 more migrant workers from neighbouring countries have silicosis. And there are an estimated 50 0000 more cases of occupational lung disease.”[7]

The outcome of the court case could take months and some sources suggest that it will only be in the new year that the outcome is decided.[8]

 

 

[1] http://mg.co.za/article/2015-10-12-mining-houses-embroiled-in-potentially-massive-tb-and-silicosis-case, 12.10.2015, aufgerufen am 19.10,2015

[2] Mining.com: South Africa gold companies face massive lung disease suit, http://www.mining.com/south-africa-gold-companies-face-massive-lung-disease-suit/?utm_source=digest-en-au-151012&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=digest, 12.10.2015, aufgerufen am 19.1.2015

[3] https://www.facing-finance.org/en/database/cases/anglo-american-south-african-miners-seek-reparations-for-occupational-illnesses/

[4] http://groundup.org.za/features/silicosis/silicosis_0022.html

[5] Mg.co.za:Mining houses embroiled in potentially massive TB and silicosis case,

http://mg.co.za/article/2015-10-12-mining-houses-embroiled-in-potentially-massive-tb-and-silicosis-case, 12.10.2015, aufgerufen am 19.10,2015

[6] https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/2014/April-2014/Anglo-American-received-Golden-Snail-award-for-del

[7] Mining.com: South Africa gold companies face massive lung disease suit, http://www.mining.com/south-africa-gold-companies-face-massive-lung-disease-suit/?utm_source=digest-en-au-151012&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=digest, 12.10.2015, aufgerufen am 19.1.2015

[8] Ibtimes.com: Minersin South Africa Sue Mining Giants Over Lung Diseases, Could WIn Hundreds of Millions in Damages, http://www.ibtimes.com/miners-south-africa-sue-gold-mining-giants-over-lung-diseases-could-win-hundreds-2137538, 12.10.2015, aufgerufen am 19.10.2015

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