The mineral resources committee welcomed the settlement agreement between gold mining companies and mineworkers who contracted lung diseases. Picture: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Parliament - Parliament's portfolio committee on mineral resources on Friday welcomed the R5 billion settlement agreement between gold mining companies and mineworkers who contracted lung diseases.

In a statement, committee chairman Sahlulele Luzipo said although the settlement came late, it brought an end to a drawn out class action. He lamented the fact that the settlement came after many workers had died as a result of contracting silicosis and tuberculosis underground.

"We believe that justice has finally prevailed, and that going forward, mining companies should always put the safety of workers first in order to prevent diseases that could potentially occur long after retirement," Luzipho said.

The agreement between the claimants who contracted silicosis and tuberculosis and the Occupational Lung Disease Working Group, representing African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American SA, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye-Stillwater, was reached last year but was subject to court approval. 

The high court in Johannesburg approved the settlement on Friday.

In terms of the agreement a trust will be set up to benefit 10 classes of claimants.

 Affected miners and their families will receive between R70 000 and R500 000 depending on which class they fall under.

African News Agency (ANA)