SA court to rule on class action against gold sector

A South African court has begun hearings to determine if gold miners suffering from lung diseases they claim to have contracted because of their job can proceed with a class action lawsuit against the industry.

The suit targets AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold, Gold Fields, Anglo American, DRDGold, and African Rainbow Minerals. Plaintiffs are suing for compensation on the grounds they contracted silicosis and tuberculosis as a result of working without adequate protection. They are seeking damages than could amount to billions of rand, at a time when South Africa’s gold industry is in steep decline as a result of depressed prices and soaring costs.

Biggest class action in Africa

The planned suit has little precedent in South African law and has its roots in a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court in 2011, which allowed lung-diseased miners to sue their employers for damages for the first time. Legal Resources Centre, a human rights group involved in the case, claims that it will proceed as the largest class action lawsuit ever seen in Africa if the court certifies the class. The ruling may not be made until next year. Source: Reuters

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