Johannesburg - Lawyers for three separate class actions against gold mining companies have applied to the South Gautgeng High Court to have the cases consolidated.
The lawyers represent more than 25 000 miners who contracted silicosis on the country's gold mines.
The lawyers said in a joint statement: "The number of class members who stand to benefit, if the litigation is successful, is conservatively estimated at between 100 000 and 200 000."
Abrahams Kiewitz Attorneys, the Legal Resources Centre and Richard Spoor Attorneys are representing the miners.
"The litigation names 32 respondent gold mining companies that owned or operated 82 different gold mines from 1956 to the present.
"The respondents include Harmony Gold Mining, Avgold, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Village Main Reef, Simmer and Jack Mines, DRDGold, ERPM, Anglo American SA, African Rainbow Minerals as well as Randgold and Exploration Company and its subsidiaries."
The proposed class action sought to distinguish between two classes:
>>The first was current and former mineworkers who had contracted silicosis and the dependants of mineworkers who died of silicosis and
>>The second was current and former mineworkers who had contracted pulmonary tuberculosis and the dependants of mineworkers who died of pulmonary TB, excluding silicotuberculosis.
The miners' legal representatives believed consolidating the suit would allow for justice to be served more efficiently and effectively.
"The purpose of the litigation is to hold the industry accountable for the harm that it has done and to put to an end to the type of conduct that has enabled it to profit at the expense of its workers," they said.