A miner works at the Anglo American Bathopele Mine in Runstenburg. Picture: AFP/ Mujahid Safodien

Johannesburg - The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Saturday welcomed the agreement to pay over R500 million in compensation to ex-gold miners and relatives of deceased miners.

The compensation follows a class action against Anglo American and AngloGold by Southern African gold miners suffering from silicosis.

“The settlement is a historic victory for human rights and communities in labour sending areas that for decades had to carry the painful cost of super exploitation,” Sanco spokesman Jabu Mahlangu said.

“The externalisation of trauma as well as dust-related lung diseases, silicosis and silico-tuberculosis, that made South African mining profitable at the expense of gold miners’ health,” he said.

The successful claim had paved the way for a wider settlement for silicosis victims employed on Anglo South Africa mines.

“Urgent intervention is required to speed up resolution of outstanding claims of dependents of thousands of miners who contracted silicosis after inhaling the invisible and highly toxic silica dust during blasting and drilling,” he said.

Mines had to take responsibility for having allowed miners to continue working up to 15 years after they were diagnosed with silicosis.

“Much more still needs to be done to protect the current workforce against occupational diseases in the mining sector ” Mahlangu said.

In 2012, more than 4 000 claimants reportedly sued the companies for dust-related lung diseases silicosis and silico-tuberculosis. The settlement now reached is separate from other class actions still pending.