Class-action lawsuit targets coal producers over occupational diseases

BusinessLive reports that human rights lawyers representing coal mineworkers filed a class-action lawsuit against global mining companies South32, BHP Billiton and Seriti Power on Tuesday. They are seeking “legal remedies for sick miners and the families of workers who died due to coal-mine dust lung disease” and associated illnesses. The application for certification of a class action was filed by human rights law firm Richard Spoor Inc in the Johannesburg High Court. Spoor explained: “It is a strategic step. The companies must now decide if they want to oppose the idea of a class action.” The applicants also plan to file similar actions against Exxaro, Glencore and Anglo Coal (in 2021 Anglo American completed the demerger of its thermal coal assets in SA to Thungela).

The class action is being brought by 17 class representatives, but Spoor could not confirm the number of families and individuals who would join the class action, and could therefore not provide a reliable estimate of the total value of compensation that would be claimed. It is proposed in the founding affidavit that individual claims be quantified based on the period a miner worked, loss of earnings and future medical expenses, among other things. The case was initiated by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

by Denene Erasmus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *