Mining shares jump after silicosis and TB appeal postponed
JSE gold miners' shares rose sharply on Wednesday, after news that the Supreme Court of Appeal had granted a postponement of the appeal in the silicosis and tuberculosis class action litigation.
The postponement sent the JSE's gold index up 2.35% in early afternoon trade.
The gains were led by Harmony, which rose 5% to R22.45, followed by AngloGold Ashanti with a 3.2% increase to R133.47.
Attorneys representing all parties involved in the matter wrote to the registrar of the court asking that it be postponed until further notice.
Gold companies were appealing against a judgment by the High Court in Johannesburg which found that Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz and the Legal Resources Centre could pursue two separate classes of claimants, one for silicosis and one for tuberculosis incurred from mining.
The appeal was set down for March.
The Legal Resource Centre on Wednesday said a joint letter to the court explained that good-faith settlement negotiations between the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group and claimants’ legal representatives had reached an advanced stage.
The working group represented African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye Stillwater.
The gold working group was established in 2014 and all of them had made provisions for claims.
Richard Spoor Inc, Abrahams Kiewitz and the LRC represented the class members.
"In view of that, all parties consider it to be in the best interests of judicial economy and the efficient administration of justice that the matter, currently scheduled to be heard from March 19-23, be postponed," LRC said.
In September, Financial Mail reported that just over R5bn in gross provisions announced by gold companies for a silicosis settlement raised hopes that the six-year battle for more generous payments for ill ex-mineworkers could reach an amicable conclusion.
Lawyers for former mineworkers started to gather claimants for a class action suit in 2011, after the Constitutional Court ruled that Thembekile Mankayi, a former employee of AngloGold Ashanti, could sue for R2.6m for compensation for the silicosis he contracted. He was paid only about R16,320 from the statutory fund to which employers contributed.
Silicosis is a progressive disease of the lungs caused by breathing in silica dust, which can lead to tuberculosis.
In the past 50 years millions of people have worked on underground mines in SA, leading to some alarming estimates of the number of possible claimants.