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Lawyers Want South African Mine Lung-Disease Suits Consolidated

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for more than 25,000 miners and the dependents of deceased workers who contracted silicosis and tuberculosis while working on South African gold mines filed an application to combine three pending cases against producers.

Abrahams Kiewitz Attorneys, the Legal Resources Centre and Richard Spoor Attorneys Inc. jointly filed the application in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Aug. 21. They named 32 respondent gold mining companies including AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Harmony Gold Mining Ltd., and Gold Fields Ltd.

“We believe that consolidation and this class action is the best route for our clients,” Sayi Nindi, an attorney at the LRC, said in a statement.

The joint litigations against the gold-mining companies, which owned or operated 82 gold mines since 1956, were separately lodged in South African courts in 2012. Silicosis is caused by prolonged exposure to silica dust in mines, leaving irreversible scar tissue in lungs, making it hard to breathe. It also heightens the risk of contracting tuberculosis.

“The failure of the industry to take responsibility for this, the largest and longest running industrial disaster in modern history, and to make redress, compels us to litigate,” Richard Spoor, a lawyer at Richard Spoor Attorneys, said in a statement.

Spoor won a 490 million-rand ($48 million) settlement from Gencor Ltd. in 2003 after representing South African workers at the company’s asbestos mines.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amogelang Mbatha in Johannesburg at ambatha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gordon Bell at gbell16@bloomberg.net

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