Anglo American Faces Bellweather Trials in South Africa Involving Gold Mine Workers
A Mail & Guardian online article ( here) describes 18 upcoming tuberculosis and silicosis trials in South Africa against mining entity Anglo American. Key excerpts state:
"The case is likely to be heard in the South Gauteng High Court next year, after seven years of research by a high-powered legal team from Legal Aid South Africa and the Legal Resources Centre, advised by UK-based human rights law firm Leigh Day & Co.
The 18 test cases have been selected to best represent the circumstances of tens of thousands of other ex-mineworkers who — if their litigation against Anglo American South Africa (AASA) is successful — could also claim damages from other companies in the mining industry.
According to Leigh Day partner Richard Meeran: "Anglo have been operating for decades and in that time they’ve seen people dying. They knew with certainty that their operations were unsafe. That’s not just negligence, is it? It shows an incredible disregard for human life over a long period of time."
In 2000 Meeran successfully litigated against a parent company, Cape plc, claiming that the mining giant’s subsidiaries knowingly exposed thousands of people — mainly black mineworkers — to the effects of asbestos in Limpopo and the Northern Cape.
Anglo American South Africa does not believe that it is in any way liable.
Anglo spokesperson Pranill Ramchander said the company will argue that "the claimants were employed by South African gold mining companies in which AASA had an interest of less than 25% … these companies were responsible for the health and safety of their employees and took reasonable steps to protect them".
He said: "Anglo American is sympathetic towards those miners who have contracted silicosis and fully supports initiatives … to ensure that they are properly treated and provided with statutory compensation and that silicosis is ultimately eliminated altogether."
Researchers Neil White and Anna Trapido estimated in the late 1990s that the entire South African mining industry would have to pay around R10-billion to compensate all its former mineworkers with respiratory diseases scattered around Southern Africa."