Anglo American SA reaches settlement with silicosis-stricken miners – by Agency Staff (Business Day – September 25, 2013)

A SETTLEMENT between Anglo American South Africa and former miners who had contracted silicosis while working for the company benefited all parties, the company said on Wednesday.

“Anglo American South Africa announces that it has concluded an agreement which resolves fully and finally 23 stand-alone silicosis claims, instituted against it between 2004 and 2009,” the company said in a statement. “The settlement has been reached without admission of liability by Anglo American South Africa and the terms of the agreement remain confidential.”

The case was brought by 23 miners, 18 of whom had worked at Anglo’s President Steyn mine in the Free State. They claimed they contracted silicosis and silico-tuberculosis while working for the company up to 1998.

Anglo American South Africa executive director Khanyisile Kweyama said: “Anglo American South Africa believes that 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.

She said Anglo’s collective objective was to significantly improve the access and quality of care available to all South Africans, as well as ensuring a healthy and safe working environment for all their employees.

The company said it was just one of a number of companies facing class action litigation involving some thousands of former mine workers.

“This litigation is separate to that brought by the claimants in today’s settlement,” Anglo said.

“Anglo American South Africa denies any liability and will continue to defend the class action proceedings.”

Earlier, Richard Meeran of British law firm Leigh Day, who with the Legal Resources Centre and attorney Zanele Mbuyisa of law firm Mbuyisa Neale represented the miners, told reporters in Johannesburg a settlement had been reached.

Legal Aid SA provided funding for the case.

“I’m delighted to announce this morning this claim has been settled,” Mr Meeran said on Wednesday.

This was the first time such a matter had been settled in South Africa.

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