Though the amount of the settlement has yet to be disclosed, an Anglo American South Africa (AASA) payout to 23 gold miners who contracted sicknesses such as tuberculosis, was recently announced. The Guardian reported that the London-headquartered company finally agreed to settle the mining suit which is expected to encourage an outpouring of similar claims.
According to the report, this suit— stemming from 2004 — is the first successful case filed by gold miners who’ve at some point down the line suffered from either tuberculosis or silicosis.
“Agreeing to settle this long-standing litigation is in the best interests of the plaintiffs, their families, Anglo American South Africa and its wider stakeholders,” Leigh Day partner Richard Meeran, who’s representing thousands of miners and family members, told the Guardian.
Supporting separate claims that AASA (between the 1960s and 1990s) was negligent in their effort to control the amount of dust that miners inhaled and worked around, Meeran has stepped up to represent more than 1,000 miners and relatives of deceased miners that have been affected.
“The writing is on the wall for mining companies,” Meeran added, speaking of the forewarning settlement. “Why would [they] fight any cases now?” We urge the gold mining companies to establish an industry-wide settlement scheme without delay.”
Daniel Seabata Thakamakau, a former worker who participated in deep underground gold mining said that most workers are not looking for a big payout, rather assistance with basic health needs. Thakamakau told the Guardian that he constantly copes with a burning sensation in his chest.
“Three of my five close friends from the mine have already died from the condition,” Thakamakau said. “About 70-80 percent of families in my area are headed by women because the men have died, often as a result of mining.”
Upon alerting a supervisor of the harsh, dust-filled conditions around the time he started mining at age 19, Thakamakau, now 67, was told to “do the job or go home.” He chose to stay and work as mining was his — and still is for some — the only way to help support a family.
Potentially tens of thousands of workers, the report said, may come forward pushing settlement payout numbers to the hundred millions.