Just over R5bn in gross provisions recently announced by gold companies for a silicosis settlement raises hopes that the six-year battle for more generous payments for ill ex-mineworkers may reach an amicable conclusion in the next few months. 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. Two separate class actions were pursued. The first, led by UK-based law firm Leigh Day and Mbuyisa Neale in SA, was on behalf of 4,365...

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