Out-of-court settlement could be reached in silicosis case

Nearly half of the ex-miners have died since the legal process started a decade ago, with many still waiting for a settlement before their conditions worsen.

FILE: Supporters of the sick former mineworkers outside the Johannesburg High Court. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Lawyers representing thousands of miners who contracted silicosis say an out-of-court settlement could be reached with gold companies by the end of the year.

The High Court set the stage last year for protracted proceedings on cases dating back decades in the largest class action suit in Africa’s most industrialised country.

Mineworkers are suing their companies for contracting fatal lung diseases like silicosis as well as TB.

Lawyers acting for the mineworkers say settlement talks with gold companies could be reached by December.

Nearly half of the ex-miners have died since the legal process started a decade ago, with many still waiting for a settlement before their conditions worsen.

The class action suit has its roots in a Constitutional Court ruling in 2011 that allowed for miners to sue their employers.

This could cost gold mining companies billions of rands as the industry struggles with lower commodity prices.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)