Gold mine companies sign R5bn class action settlement in silicosis case

Lawyers representing miners say the agreement with the 32 gold mine companies provides meaningful compensation to all eligible workers.

Members of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) & Sonke Gender Justice protesting outside court to show their support for ex-miners seeking compensation for contracting silicosis while working underground. Picture: Gia Nicolaides/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gold mine companies have signed a R5 billion class action settlement with law firms representing thousands of miners who contracted silicosis and tuberculosis.

The settlement agreement comes after nearly three years of negotiations.

Lawyers representing miners say the agreement with the 32 gold mine companies provides meaningful compensation to all eligible workers suffering from the lung diseases who worked on the mines from 12 March 1965 to date.

Lawyer for the workers Richard Spoor says the agreement will also benefit the dependents of deceased miners once ratified.

“That agreement still needs to be ratified by the court, approved by the court and then it will result in the establishment of a trust that will compensate mineworkers who worked in the goldmines and contracted lung diseases.”

This development is seen as a historic moment which paves the way for similar lawsuits in the country.

If ratified by the courts, the agreement will see thousands of workers and their dependents receive payouts ranging from R70,000 to R250,000.

Spoor says he’s confident the settlement will get a nod from the courts.

“I think there’s a lot of confidence that the settlement will get the approval of the court. I’m very hopeful that we can get the court to endorse it.”

Spoor says trust fund will be set up to manage the funds and trace claimants eligible for compensation.