Anglo American Plc’s South African unit and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. have agreed to settle some lung-disease claims for more than 500 million rand ($32 million). The settlement comes after 4,365 former employees sued the mining companies, saying they contracted dust-related lung diseases such as silicosis and tuberculosis while working in unsafe conditions, Leigh Day, a U.K.-based law firm, said in an e-mailed statement. The settlement is separate from a class-action lawsuit currently being evaluated at Johannesburg’s High Court.
“The epidemic of silicosis and TB has caused widespread suffering and misery for ex-miners, their families and communities,” Zanele Mbuyisa, a lawyer representing claimants, said in the statement. “Sick ex-miners have effectively been left on the scrap heap by the mines and thousands of silicosis victims must have died uncompensated.”
Silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling dust from mines, causes scar tissue in the lungs, increasing vulnerability to tuberculosis that can kill more than half of sufferers if not properly treated. South Africa is source of about a third of all gold yet produced globally.
The money will be paid into a trust that will then pay affected mineworkers depending on the severity of their condition and their age. The level of payout will depend on the number of claimants who qualify since the settlement is a fixed amount, Leigh Day said.
Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold reached the settlement without admission of liability, they said in a separate statement e-mailed by Anglo.