MAC: Mines and Communities

New Asbestos claims settlement in South Africa

Published by MAC on 2006-03-01

Another set of asbestos victims'claims has been settled in South Africa. This time, the culprit company is Eternit, whose deadly operations in other countries have recently been subject to civil and criminal actions [see:]

Eternit was owned by the Schmidheiny family, whose Holcim this year became the world's most successful cement producer.

Successful establishment of the Kgalagadi Relief Trust

by Media Statement

1st March 2006

In 2002, discussions were initiated between Richard Spoor, a South African attorney who represents numerous asbestos victims and their dependants, and Becon AG, the company dealing with asbestos issues related to the former Swiss Eternit Group.

These discussions have now come to a successful conclusion as Mr. Spoor and Becon AG have agreed to set up a trust under the name of the "Kgalagadi Relief Trust" (KRT).

The purpose of this Trust is to provide financial relief to individuals who contracted an asbestos related disease between 1952 and 1981. During this time, the Swiss Eternit Group held an interest in two South African mines, KCBA and DCBA in Kuruman and Danielskuil respectively.

The structure and organization of the Trust will closely resemble that of the existing "Asbestos Relief Trust" (ART). To avoid unnecessary duplication, the ART will be entrusted with the management and administration of the new Trust.

Richard Spoor and Becon are satisfied that the voluntary grants payable to qualifying applicants are fair and equitable. The contributions made by Becon AG to the Trust from time to time will be kept confidential, but both parties are confident that they will be sufficient to enable the Trust to fulfil its obligations to beneficiaries.

This agreement allows those who qualify in terms of the Trust deed criteria, which correspond to those of the ART, to receive prompt financial relief. The KRT has an intended lifespan of 20 years.

KRT trustees will include Piroshaw Camay, a former trade union activist (who is also a trustee of the ART), and Brian Gibson, who has advised industry and government on asbestos-related issues for more than 20 years.

The KRT will become active on April 1, 2006. Meetings will be held in Kuruman and Danielskuil to explain the operation of the Trust and the procedures for submitting applications.


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