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Court approves postponement of silicosis case

Jan 11 2018 07:00
Lameez Omarjee

Cape Town – The Supreme Court of Appeal has granted a postponement of the silicosis class action appeal as parties try to settle out of court.

This is according to a statement issued by the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, representing mining companies African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater.

In May 2016 the South Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of miners who contracted silicosis in the mines and wanted to launch a class action law suit, as Fin24 previously reported.

Silicosis is an occupational lung disease, contracted from inhaling silica dust. It makes breathing difficult.

In September 2017, Bloomberg reported that the mining companies had set aside $390m (about R4.9bn) for a settlement, but an agreement had not yet been finalised.

Alan Fine, spokesperson for the working group, explained that if a settlement agreement is reached, the case would likely not go forward. For now that is, however, just speculation.  

A joint letter by the working group and the legal representatives of the miners - Richard Spoor Attorneys, Abrahams Kiewietz and the Legal Resources Centre - was sent to the SCA explaining the settlement negotiations were at an “advanced stage”.

They indicated in the letter that it was in the “best interests” of the judicial economy for the matter to be postponed. The appeal was to have been heard between March 19 and 23.

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silicosis  |  lung disease  |  mining
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