SOUTH Africa’s largest gold mining companies as well as Anglo American and African Rainbow Minerals are edging towards an out of court settlement in respect of claims lodged by miners suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.
The Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, which represents the likes of Sibanye-Stillwater, Harmony Gold, Gold Fields, and AngloGold Ashanti, as well as the claimants who are represented by human rights attorney, Richard Spoor, asked the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to postpone a hearing scheduled for March 19 to 23.
In a joint letter to the SCA, the parties said that “… good faith settlement negotiations” between The Occupational Lung Disease Working Group and claimants’ attorneys had reached “… an advanced stage”. “In view of that, all parties consider it to be in the best interests of judicial economy and the efficient administration of justice that the matter, currently scheduled to be heard from 19-23 March, be postponed,” the letter read.
The claimants are also being represented by Abrahams Kiewietz Inc and the Legal Resources Centre.
The settlement could be potentially massive – perhaps the largest in South African history – based on provisions set down by mining companies through the course of last year. Harmony Gold, for instance, made a R917m provision for its silicosis lawsuit, whilst Gold Fields in July provided some $30m for a settlement equal to R373m at the current exchange. Anglo American provided $101m for the payment, some R1.3bn.