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To: CEOs of Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, African Rainbow Minerals, Gold Fields, Sibanye Gold and Harmony Gold and others

Deliver fair compensation for miners with silicosis

Deliver fair compensation for miners with silicosis

Pay a fair compensation to all claimants or their families for contracting silicosis while working in gold mines.

Why is this important?

Zwelakhe Dala passed away on 30 March 2015. His death certificate just states that he died of natural causes. He was 55 years old and was suffering from silicosis. Zwelakhe’s widow, Nosipho, is but one of hundreds of thousands of families who stand to benefit from the class action lawsuit brought against the likes of Anglo American, Gold Fields, AngloGold Ashanti, African Rainbow Minerals, Sibanye Gold and Harmony Gold.

Zwelakhe is one of thousands of workers suffering from silicosis-related diseases. In May last year, the South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of mine workers who intend on launching a silicosis class action. The case was granted a class action certification which will make it the largest class action ever to be certified in South Africa, allowing hundreds of thousands of gold miners and their families to seek redress against gold mining companies.

Below is a summary of the facts pertaining to the settlement plan:

Last year, the gold mining companies launched an appeal against the court decision to allow miners suffering from silicosis and TB to fight for compensation as a group.
The High Court ruled on June 24, 2016, to allow workers and families who’ve been affected by Silicosis and TB to file a class action suit against gold companies.
The biggest gold producers – African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony, and Sibanye – are trying to negotiate a settlement, involving the departments of Health and Mineral Resources and the mine workers’ representatives.
This would involve setting up a trust fund to pay “top-ups” to workers who have already been paid compensation.
It would also involve bringing mine workers under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) and the Department of Labour, instead of the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODIMWA) and the Department of Health.
This would prevent any future civil claims by mineworkers for damages for employer negligence causing silicosis and TB.

The mining companies’ choice to use appeals to delay any trial on the merits of the case for as long as possible while they manage a negotiation process away from judicial oversight is an underhanded move aimed at undermining its role, and shortchanging the claimants and their families. We have seen evidence of this in earlier settlements where 4 365 workers were paid a maximum of R464 million [1] by Anglo mines. When this figure is divided amongst the number of workers claiming it averages to a measly R106 300 per claimant. There is also a real possibility that not all claimants will be paid based on tests of a ­random sample.

Just recently, Anglo American announced a $101m (R1.3bn) “best estimate” for settling its liability in the now 13-year-old legal battle to compensate mine workers suffering from lung diseases [2]. This also coincided with Gold Fields announcing its provision for a settlement amounting to $30.2m. We need to ensure that other gold mining companies implicated stop the delay tactics and pay mine workers compensation.

[1] Silicosis claims: Anglo has to cough up nearly R500m, Dewald van Rensburg for News24. 6 March 2016.
[2] Mines make room for silicosis settlements, Dewald van rensburg for News24. 30 July 2017.

Updates

2017-09-06 14:23:49 +0200

10 signatures reached