A look at the lawsuit brought by South African gold miners
Mining operations, but particularly precious metal and gold mining operations, are understood by most anyone and everyone – industry insiders and outsiders are like – to be a pretty dirty job. Anytime you are talking about breaking apart the earth in a grand scale, diving deep beneath the soil to excavate, sift, and locate precious metals and minerals from other natural resources you’re talking about a tremendous amount of waste, a tremendous amount of equipment, and a tremendous consumption of fossil fuels – all of which reduces a pretty steady flow of poor quality air throughout the entirety of the mining operation.
This is the backbone and foundation contention of a class-action lawsuit brought together by thousands of mine workers and employees living and working in South Africa, all of which have developed lung diseases related to the conditions of their daily work.
The lawsuit itself began gaining steam about eight years ago or so but wasn’t brought into the courts of South Africa until six years ago, when thousands of minors throughout the South African region were diagnosed with silicosis – a deadly and dangerous lung disease that is only caused by inhaling the silica dust that is so prevalent in gold mining operations.
Progress on the class-action lawsuit has been slow and steady over the past half decade or so. In January 2018, negotiations between the plaintiffs and the defendants slowed down to a pause in the action has tempers were running high in the figures that were being bandied about weren’t anywhere near one another and there didn’t look to be any common ground that could have been breached.
However, now in February 2018, it appears as though the class-action lawsuit is closer to a legitimate settlement than ever before. The Working Group on Occupational Lung Disease (the organization representing the six individual gold mining operations that are part of the class-action lawsuit) announced that there has been substantial movement towards a $755 million (US) settlement between all aggrieved parties – and that the settlement could be ratified before the end of the month or the middle of March, at the very latest.
Lead attorneys and legal representatives from this organization are in the mind to settle. Almost all of the claimants of this class-action lawsuit are black mining individuals from South Africa and neighboring regions, many of which were not provided with any adequate protection or safety equipment after apartheid rule ceased to exist in South Africa in 1994.
The gold mining operations do not want to peel the scab off of those old wounds, and for good reason. Many of them also recognize that these individual minors have a reason to feel aggrieved in the first place, recognize that they were put in harm’s way, and understand that they are going through serious turmoil and will have their lives significantly shortened because of the work that they put into these gold mines over the last 30 or 40 years.
Stay tuned for more updates regarding this settlement offer and the agreement that these parties are poised to reach with one another.