South African miners to tackle lung disease claims

South African miners to tackle lung disease claims

Five of South Africa’s largest gold miners announced Tuesday the creation of a group that will look at compensation and medical care for people that have acquired occupational lung disease, also known as silicosis.

The alliance, which includes Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI), AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU), Anglo American South Africa, Harmony Gold Mining (NYSE:HMY) and Sibanye Gold Ltd. (NYSE:SBGL) (JSE:SGL), said they will meet with the government, labour unions and claimants’ lawyers next year.

“These companies do not believe that they are liable in respect of the claims brought, and they are defending these,” the statement reads. “The companies do, however, believe that they should work together to seek a solution to this South African mining industry legacy issue.”

In July last year close to 15,000 former miners suffering from lung disease joined South Africa's biggest ever class action lawsuit against some of the world's leading gold producers.

A few months later former gold miner Anglo American South Africa (AASA— a division of Anglo American (LON:AAL) — was ordered to payout 23 South African workers who developed silicosis while working at the company's mines.

Little research has been conducted into the incidence of lung disease amongst South African miners, and the few studies undertaken by mining companies so far have focused largely upon white workers.

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