6 March 2016

South Africa: Silicosis Compensation - a Triumph for Justice - but Now for the Bigger Fight

Photo: Anglo Thermal Coal
File photo.

Last week Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti announced they had settled thousands of silicosis claims worth R464-million, affecting up to 4,365 mineworkers. For those miners, the agreement is welcome. For thousands of others still fighting for compensation, it's a positive step in their journey. By GREG NICOLSON.

Following their defeat in the UK courts, British firm Leigh Day and local attorney Zanele Mbuyisa, from Mbuyisa Neale Attorneys, in 2012 started to test the courts in South Africa for silicosis-related compensation claims for 4,365 mineworkers against both Anglo American SA and AngloGold Ashanti.

The case was set for arbitration in April, but last week the mining companies announced they had reached an out-of-court settlement worth up to R464-million. For the miners, whose legal battle began essentially in 2004, the agreement is a relief. But for many others, still pushing cases against the large gold producers, it's only a positive indicator of things to come.

The R464-million will be paid into an independent trust which will determine the medical and other eligibility details of the claimants for compensation. This means those 4,365 miners must first prove their circumstances to receive compensation.

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