JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A trust formed in 2016 to compensate a group of former Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti employees who suffer from silica-related illnesses, has already distributed about R102-million of a R395-million settlement.
The Q(h)ubeka Trust was established in March 2016 following the successful conclusion of a lengthy compensation battle by attorneys Richard Meeran and Zanele Mbuyisa, on behalf of 4 365 former mineworkers who may be suffering from silica-related occupational lung diseases.
Many of the former mineworkers from South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho contracted silicosis while working for various mines owned by Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti.
The trust has until April 2019 to complete medical assessments of all claimants and make the first tranche of compensation payments to qualifying claimants.
To date, about 2 350 of the 4 365 claimants have undergone the medical assessments, Q(h)ubeka Trust chairperson Dr Sophia Kisting-Cairncross said.
As the majority of the claimants live in rural areas, the trust has partnered with a number of local healthcare service providers, and is helping to upskill them in the diagnosis of pneumoconiosis.
The assessment results are sent to a panel of medical specialists for review and to make a determination about each claimant’s eligibility for compensation.
Less than half of the claimants that have been assessed so far suffer from silicosis.
In addition to invalid contact details for claimants and difficulty locating potential beneficiaries, the trust is also having challenges determining compensation eligibility and establishing that claimants worked for Anglo American South Africa- and AngloGold Ashanti-owned mines for at least two years.
Following the first tranche, the trust will make a second tranche of payments for the distribution of the remaining settlement funds that were not paid out in the first tranche to the qualifying claimants and the family members of qualifying deceased claimants.
The concluded compensation action is separate from the class action suit that is currently under way against various South African mining companies, but which also includes Anglo American and AngloGold.