The R5bn silicosis settlement approved by the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) last week is not a finite amount and can increase depending on the number of claims received, attorneys involved in the case said yesterday, notes a Mail & Guardian report.

‘A lot of settlements are often about the amount without knowing how many claims there may be. This is different because it is not about the amount, it is about the settlement amount per claimant – so that means it’s open-ended – because we are not sure how many claims there are,’ said Graham Briggs, chair of the Occupational Lung Diseases (OLD) working group.

The case spans from 2012 when Richard Spoor Attorneys, Abrahams Kiewitz Incorporated and the Legal Resource Centre brought a class action against a number of gold mining companies to get compensation for goldmine workers exposed to silica dust and who got sick from either silicosis or tuberculosis.

This means goldmine workers or their dependents, if the mineworker has passed away, might be eligible for compensation if the mineworker suffered from silicosis or certain types of tuberculosis contracted at work at certain gold mines any time after 12 March 1965.

Miners affected are eligible to get R10 000 to R500 000, depending on the nature and the severity of the disease.

‘There is no maximum and there is also no minimum – so the guarantees of R5bn are regarded by both sides as being the reasonable estimate of what the ultimate liability might be,’ said Micheal Murray, of the OLD working group.

Six gold miners African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwaters, along with the claimants attorneys, will set up the Tshiamiso trust which will make sure qualifying miners get compensation.

Full Mail & Guardian report