Originally published on September 26th, 2013
Anglo American SA has settled a compensation claim by 23 gold miners who claim working for the company led them to develop silicosis and silico-tuberculosis. The miners, 18 of whom worked at Anglo American SA, first brought the suit against the global mining giant in 2004, according to REUTERS.
Silicosis can be a fatal lung diseases caused by breathing in harmful dust particles which contain crystalline silica. There is no cure for the silicosis and there are not many treatment options. At-risk occupations for silicosis include construction, mining, masonry, plumbing, manufacturing of glass and metal products and painting.
When an individual inhales silica dust particles it causes scar tissue to form within the lungs and reduces their ability to extract oxygen from the air. The silica dust particles embed in the alveolar sacs and cannot be cleared by mucus or coughing.
According to Reuters eight of the original 23 claimants have died of silicosis. The details of the settlement have been kept confidential, but the payout can be upwards of millions of dollars. According to Richard Meeran, the London-based lawyer representing the claimants, his clients are very happy with the deal.
It is believed that tens of thousands of black miners from South Africa and neighboring countries have contracted silicosis during the time of apartheid rule because their health and safety were not priorities to white gold barons.
Anglo America sold of its assets over a decade ago, but is still responsible for this suit and similar initiatives. Anglo American released a statement saying "We continue to work with industry , government and civil society to tackle the many challenges of primary health care in South Africa."