Busi­ness & TEN­DERS Mines make room for sil­i­co­sis set­tle­ments

CityPress - - Business - DEWALD VAN RENSBURG dewald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za 30 JULY, 2017

It is un­clear how ex­actly multi­na­tional min­ing giant An­glo Amer­i­can came to the $101 mil­lion (R1.3 bil­lion) “best es­ti­mate” it an­nounced this week for set­tling its li­a­bil­ity in the now 13-year-old le­gal bat­tle to com­pen­sate mine work­ers suf­fer­ing from lung dis­eases.

Coin­ci­den­tally, Gold Fields also an­nounced its pro­vi­sion for a set­tle­ment as part of its fi­nan­cial re­sults this week, amount­ing to $30.2 mil­lion.

This brings the value of the two pro­vi­sions to R1.7 bil­lion.

James Well­stead, spokesper­son for Sibanye Gold, con­firmed that the com­pany would also have a pro­vi­sion for a set­tle­ment in­cluded in its fi­nan­cial re­sults, set for re­lease at the end of Au­gust.

How­ever, Well­stead warned that the fig­ures be­ing pro­vided by the mines do not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the value of a col­lec­tive set­tle­ment.

“I think that at this point, all the com­pa­nies are com­ing up with their own independent es­ti­mates from their own au­di­tors,” he told City Press.

That means that they are not nec­es­sar­ily us­ing the same as­sump­tions to cal­cu­late what was in­evitably a hypothetical num­ber.

The ma­jor out­stand­ing play­ers that have yet to an­nounce pro­vi­sions are An­gloGold Ashanti and Har­mony Gold.

Har­mony will re­port re­sults on Au­gust 17 and An­gloGold will do the same on Au­gust 21.

Th­ese five com­pa­nies will rep­re­sent most of what­ever set­tle­ment emerges, but it has been as­sumed up till now that An­glo Amer­i­can would face the largest li­a­bil­ity, given its long his­tory of dom­i­nance in the in­dus­try.

Its pro­vi­sion of $101 mil­lion falls far short of An­glo’s share in var­i­ous pop­u­lar es­ti­mates of what the sil­i­co­sis set­tle­ment could end up be­ing. Th­ese grav­i­tate around the R10 bil­lion mark.

A set­tle­ment of some sort has been un­der dis­cus­sion since at least early last year, when a class ac­tion against the mines was cer­ti­fied.

Ac­tu­ar­ial es­ti­mates have to con­sider how many sick mine work­ers there are – and how many of th­ese will likely be ac­tu­ally found.

Th­ese men have to be di­vided into cat­e­gories ac­cord­ing to the sever­ity of their illness, and then amounts have to be agreed on for each cat­e­gory of dis­ease.

A small, sep­a­rate set­tle­ment ear­lier in­volved more than 4 000 mine work­ers and set a bench­mark of about R100 000 per claimant.

The es­ti­mates of the amounts ow­ing range from an ab­so­lute min­i­mum of R17 000 to a hypothetical max­i­mum of R500 000.

Richard Spoor, the hu­man rights lawyer who has driven the sil­i­co­sis case, has used R100 000 as a work­ing es­ti­mate.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.