23/11/2017 15:25 SAST | Updated 23/11/2017 15:25 SAST

Mineral Resources Dept. Must Be Part Of Largest Class Action Suit To Date -- Parliament

30,000 former mine workers are taking on mining giants in SA's biggest class action suit, and parliament wants the department of mineral resources involved.

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The portfolio committee on mineral resources has called for the department of mineral resources to play a role in the class action lawsuit by 30,000 former mine workers against 82 gold mines.

"It is concerning that political guidance is missing, and this case has been dragging on for four years now," said Sahlulele Luzipo, who chairs the committee. "The reality is that people will eventually complain to parliament when things go wrong."

He said this yesterday after a briefing by lawyers representing former mine workers suffering from fatal lung disease silicosis.

Silicosis is contracted after exposure to silica dust, and symptoms typically worsen over time as scarring in the lungs occurs.

The mine workers are suing six gold-mining firms, including Anglo American, after they contracted the disease.

Although the case started in 2012, the high court only granted authorisation to proceed last year (2016). The matter has since been taken on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The mining firms on Wednesday made a R5-billion ($361-million) provision to settle a class action lawsuit with thousands of mine workers who contracted silicosis or tuberculosis.

Lawyers acting for mine workers who contracted silicosis and TB said that settlement talks with implicated gold companies over an out-of-court deal could bear fruit by December.