South African Gold Companies Form Working Group on Lung Disease

South African gold-mining companies, some of which are being sued for historical incidents of lung disease, formed a working group to pay compensation to affected workers and prevent new cases occurring.

The group, which includes AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., Anglo American South Africa and Sibanye Gold Ltd., plans to set up a so-called legacy fund to supplement compensation paid by the state, it said in an op-ed in Johannesburg-based City Press Sunday.

“While there rests a fiduciary obligation on company managements to vigorously defend the legal challenge they face, it is also within their remit to find a solution that could provide a mutually acceptable outcome for all parties concerned,” they wrote.

Sufferers of silicosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling dust from mines, are planning a class-action lawsuit against mining companies, which they say provided unsafe working conditions. Anglo American Plc’s South African unit and AngloGold settled a separate case related to silicosis earlier this month for about 500 million rand ($33 million).

African Rainbow Minerals Ltd., Gold Fields Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co. are also part of the working group.

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