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South African Miners Seek Arbitration For Compensation

Friday, October, 12, 2012

Legal arbitration hearings have begun against Anglo American South Africa (AASA), as initiated by former miners who claim health-related negligence on part of the company. An arbitration proceeding has been set for September 2013 in Johannesburg before the high court.

This Employment Arbitration to Determine Exposure Accountability

The upcoming public arbitration hearing will decide whether or not the AASA will be held responsible for the compensation of several employees who had contracted silicosis and silico-tuberculosis while mining in the President Steyn gold mine between the years of 1970 and 1998.

Former employees working in the aforementioned gold mine claim that they were exposed to dangerous amounts of silica dust during mining and were not supplied with proper protective equipment.

Comments from the Workers' Arbitration Attorney and AASA

Richard Meeran, arbitration attorney employed by London firm Leigh Day & Co said, “The company will at least have to respond in an open hearing to allegations that it failed to prevent gold miners on its South African mines from contracting devastating lung diseases.” Meeran also said that he hopes this case will set an example for other companies to compensate their employees in cases of health problems resulting from the work they do while under the company.

Anglo American says that the arbitration will be the most effective means of reaching an agreement in terms of the allegations against them. A separate case against Anglo American South Africa involving almost 2,000 former mining employees is also being represented by Leigh Day & Co before the English High Court. The former miners in this case were also exposed to high levels of silica dust, causing them to contract silicosis and silico-tuberculosis.

Legal Arbitration Financing and Arbitration Panel Set

Legal Aid South Africa is providing financial backing to The Legal Resources Centre and Leigh Day & Co, who will be representing 15 cases. 14 of the 15 cases are those of former miners, and one case is representing a widow whose spouse died from complications due to his illness. There are an additional 3 cases that were stayed after the former miners had also died.

Former Chief Justice of South Africa Sandie Ngcobo and two former judges from the Supreme Court of Appeal are to hear the arbitration proceedings that are estimated to take about four months to deliberate. A ruling is expected for early 2014.