The Tshiamiso Trust, which was established to disburse compensation funds to mineworkers who contracted silicosis in South Africa’s gold mining sector, has successfully paid the first group of more than 100 compensation settlements to claimants following earlier pilot payments to test its system.
Compensation amounts have ranged between R25 000 and R250 000, depending on case-specific claims, and, so far, amounted to more than R9-million.
The trust expects to see a steady flow of payments to claimants in the months and years ahead, now that the requisite processes have been set up.
About 40 000 claims have been lodged since the claims lodgement process was opened in February last year.
The trust currently has 61 lodgement centres in five countries, as well as 11 medical centres, of which six are mobile, to carry out medical benefit examinations as part of the eight-step application process that claimants have to undergo.
The Tshiamiso Trust was established as a result of a class action suit in 2013 that related to miners suffering from silicosis after having worked in the country’s gold mines between March 12, 1965, and December 10, 2019.
The six participating companies to the trust, African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold and Sibanye-Stillwater, have in aggregate provided for about R5-billion that is expected to be paid in benefits and to fund the costs of the trust.
Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock and mineral ores. It causes chest pains, coughing and breathing problems, and also increases the risk of contracting tuberculosis.
The gold mining sector in South Africa has employed more than 1.3-million people. Of that, about half, or 630 000 people, have worked on mines that are party to this trust, in the period that the trust covers.