Cosatu says it will soon begin a process of identifying the victims of silicosis and pulmonary tuberculosis to determine the extent of their claims against the gold mining companies.
The labour federation says while the R5 billion settlement agreement is a victory for gold mineworkers, the process is far from over.
The High Court in Johannesburg approved the settlement agreement on Friday.
It was reached in May 2018 between six mining companies and will benefit thousands of mineworkers who’ve contracted lung diseases since 1965 and their dependants.
Claimants will be paid out between R70 000 and R500 000 each.
Meanwhile, the Minerals Council South Africa’s Charmane Russells says they welcome the news.
“The minerals council has welcomed the judgement. It’s not only been a hugely important judgement and settlement in terms of the content and nature of the agreement that has now been approved. But it has been important in the way in which the parties have reached this agreement in a collaborative and problem solving approach. And the way in which they considered the needs of the potential claimants,” says Russells.
The class action suit was launched in 2012 on behalf of miners suffering from silicosis, an incurable disease caused by inhaling silica dust from gold-bearing rocks.
It causes shortness of breath, a persistent cough and chest pains, and also makes people highly susceptible to tuberculosis.
The companies involved are Harmony Gold, Gold Fields, African Rainbow Minerals ARIJ.J, Sibanye-Stillwater SGLJ.J, AngloGold Ashanti and Anglo American South Africa. The latter no longer has gold assets but historically was a bullion producer.