MINES COME OUT

CityPress - - Business - DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG dewald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

Min­ing com­pa­nies will ap­peal against last month’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of a po­ten­tially enor­mous class ac­tion by mine work­ers with sil­i­co­sis and TB.

This had “com­pli­cated” the on­go­ing talks about a set­tle­ment, an out­come the mines also pre­ferred, said Richard Spoor, who is rep­re­sent­ing the mine work­ers.

Ap­pli­ca­tions to the Supreme Court of Ap­peal were filed by An­glo Amer­i­can, An­gloGold Ashanti, African Rain­bow Min­er­als, Gold Fields and DRDGold.

Even without this ap­peal, the class ac­tion had been ex­pected to take a year to go to trial, said Spoor. The ap­peal now sus­pends the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the class ac­tion.

“A set­tle­ment is con­tin­gent on there be­ing a class,” said Spoor. “It is im­pos­si­ble to talk in good faith ... You can­not rec­on­cile the two things. The ap­peal is not sin­cere; it is a tac­tic.

“The irony is that the in­dus­try has a pow­er­ful in­ter­est in a set­tle­ment that binds ev­ery­one.”

The mine work­ers’ lawyers are work­ing on new strate­gies as well.

“We are obliged to do some­thing ... We will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to ex­pe­dite this,” said Spoor.

He said they were “look­ing at” forc­ing the com­pa­nies to dis­close es­ti­mates of their li­a­bil­ity to share­hold­ers, among other things.

“We can­not tol­er­ate a sit­u­a­tion where up to 4% of the class is dy­ing ev­ery year and the in­dus­try is drag­ging this on.”

The com­pa­nies are still push­ing their orig­i­nal ar­gu­ment that the class ac­tion is legally point­less and just plain im­pos­si­ble from a prac­ti­cal per­spec­tive.

PHOTO: DEWALD VAN RENS­BURG

LIV­ING VIC­TIMS For­mer mine work­ers at­tend a road­show through the Eastern Cape by sil­i­co­sis lawyers in 2013

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