Anglo American and AngloGold reach $30m silicosis settlement with minersPublished by MAC on 2016-03-07
Source: Statement, Reuters, Business Day
For decades the miners affected with debilitating silicosis were left to fend for themselves, after their hard labour made a fortune for Anglo American and AngloGold. Now, even if the settlement is somewhat late and not necessarily just, they may have secured some sense of financial security.
Previous article on MAC: Will South Africa's gold miners get justice?
Victory at last for South African gold miners as Anglo American and AngloGold agree landmark silicosis compensation scheme
Leigh Day press statement
7 March 2016
- Silicosis claimants and Richard Meeran from Leigh Day discuss what the settlement means to those affected – click here
- Hear how the settlement of ex- gold miner Alpheos Blom’s case has changed his life since 2013 – click here
Former gold miners and relatives of deceased ex-miners have reached a landmark settlement of their long-running legal battle against Anglo American South Africa Ltd and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.
The 4,365 Claimants sued the mining companies for dust-related lung diseases, silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, which they claim were contracted from working in unsafe conditions in the mines.
The claimants are represented by Zanele Mbuyisa of Mbuyisa Neale attorneys (Johannesburg) assisted by human rights lawyers, Leigh Day (London).
The settlement was announced on 5 March 2016 at a press conference in Johannesburg by Zanele Mbuyisa, and Leigh Day partners, Richard Meeran and Shanta Martin.
Binyana Benson Qubeka, who was one of the lead claimants in the litigation attended the conference. Mr Qubeka worked at AngloGold mines for 15 years and at other Anglo American operations for 10 years. He was diagnosed with silicosis in 1998.
A trust to be set up under the settlement has been named Q(h)ubeka, meaning ‘go forward’ in Xhosa in honour of the thousands of claimants who have struggled for decades without proper compensation from the mining companies.
The overall value of the settlement is estimated to be more than R500 million (£23 million). A total of R464 million (£21 million) will be paid into the Q(h)ubeka Trust for distribution, while a further amount will be paid to assist the Trust to enable payment of ODMWA compensation to Claimants who qualify for it.
In addition, Anglo American and AngloGold will fund the costs of the Trust and the medical evaluations.
In addition to payment from the Trust, the Trust will arrange for claims to be submitted to the Medical Bureau of Diseases for compensation under ODMWA.
The Q(h)ubeka Trustees, chaired by Doctor Sophia Kisting, are experts in the fields of occupational disease, financial administration and law.
Welcoming the settlement, Zanele Mbuyisa said: "The epidemic of silicosis and TB has caused widespread suffering and misery for ex-miners, their families and communities. Sick ex-miners have effectively been left on the scrap heap by the mines and thousands of silicosis victims must have died uncompensated during a period when the industry should have been well aware of their predicament and its cause.
“A six-week trial had been scheduled in April 2016. Based on the evidence amassed and the powerful support from an array of eminent experts we were confident of winning. However, continuing with the litigation, rather than settling, would have meant a further substantial delay in receipt of compensation, which the claimants and their families cannot afford.”
Richard Meeran from Leigh Day said: “This settlement is a triumph for justice and accountability. It will bring much needed financial relief to the victims and their families. This settlement scheme provides a model and, we hope, the necessary impetus for an industry-wide settlement for all gold mining silicosis victims.”
More information available here: https://www.leighday.co.uk/News/News-2016/March-2016/Victory-at-last-for-South-African-gold-miners-as-A
Anglo American, AngloGold reach $30m silicosis settlement with miners
After miners filed lawsuits against producers.
4 March 2016
Anglo American and AngloGold Ashanti have reached a $30 million settlement with 4,400 gold miners who contracted the fatal lung disease silicosis while working underground, the companies and lawyers said on Friday.
A disease which causes shortness of breath, a persistent cough and chest pains, silicosis is caused by inhaling silica dust from gold-bearing rocks.
Lawsuits filed against the industry over the illness have alleged miners were provided with insufficient protection.
Compensation will be provided to claimants diagnosed with silicosis who worked for either company for at least two years. Anglo American quit the bullion sector in 2009, the effective cut-off date for its claimants.
“This settlement is a triumph for justice and accountability. It will bring much-needed financial relief to the victims and their families,” said Richard Meeran of Leigh Day, one of the law firms that represented the miners.
“This scheme provides a model and, we hope, the necessary impetus for an industry-wide settlement for all gold mining silicosis victims,” he said.
The settlement is separate from a silicosis class action suit against the industry currently waiting for the green light to proceed from the Johannesburg High Court.
Many of the affected miners come from neighbouring countries such as Lesotho.
The companies noted that “the settlement has been reached without admission of liability by AngloGold Ashanti and Anglo American South Africa and the terms of the agreement remain confidential.”
Both companies will contribute, in stages, up to 464 million rand ($30 million) to an independent trust that will determine compensation for claimants.
South Africa’s gold industry has been declining for years but its prospects and cash flows have improved in recent months because of a rising gold price and a sharp fall in the rand currency.
Anglo American and AngloGold settle silicosis case worth almost R500m
by Allan Seccombe
4 March 2016
ANGLO American SA and AngloGold Ashanti have reached an agreement to compensate nearly 4,400 silicosis claims brought against the companies for a total R464m, which will be put into an independent trust to distribute compensation.
The lawyers representing 4,365 claimants had sued the South African arm of Anglo American and former subsidiary AngloGold for dust-related lung illnesses, including silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, contracted while working on the companies’ mines. The claims were first lodged in 2012.
Local law firm Mbuyisa Neale was assisted by human rights lawyers Leigh Day in London, and they stressed this settlement was completely separate from the silicosis class-action proceedings awaiting a decision on certification from the High Court in Johannesburg.
Anglo American SA is one of 32 companies, including AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold and African Rainbow Minerals involved in the class action. The High Court will decide whether or not a class-action law suit is the appropriate way to hear that action, which was brought by different lawyers acting for different people.
Anglo American and AngloGold said the agreement fully and finally resolved the stand-alone silicosis claims brought against them, of which 1,200 were brought against AngloGold.
"AngloGold Ashanti believes that agreeing settlement terms is in the best interests of the claimants, their families, and the company," AngloGold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said.
"Both companies and the plaintiffs have a common interest in settling this highly complex case that could take several years to resolve through litigation," he said.
Without an admission of liability, both companies said they would fund up to R464m that would be paid into the independent trust to be called Q(h)ukeka, within two weeks of the trust’s bank account being set up.
The lawyers said the companies would fund the costs of the trust as well as medical evaluations of those claiming from the trust. To qualify for compensation, the claimants would need to be diagnosed with silicosis and have worked on the companies’ mines for at least two years.
The claimants come from the Eastern Cape, Lesotho and the Free State, and have an average age of 61.
In November 2014, Anglo American SA, AngloGold, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye formed an industry working group, which now includes African Rainbow Minerals, to address issues relating to compensation and medical care for occupational lung disease in the gold mining industry in SA, said Anglo American SA executive head Andile Sangqu.
"The industry working group is seeking a comprehensive solution to address legacy compensation issues and future legal frameworks that are fair to past, current and future employees," he said.