Former gold miners listen to speakers at a registration meeting for miners with silicosis in Bizana in South Africa's impoverished Eastern Cape province, March 7, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File Photo
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South Africa's High Court gave the green light Friday for class action suits seeking damages from gold firms on behalf of up to half a million miners who contracted the fatal lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis while working underground.The class action suits, which have little precedent in South African law, have their roots in a landmark 2011 ruling by the Constitutional Court that for the first time allowed lung-diseased miners to sue employers for damages.That is why Anglo American, which no longer has any interests in gold mining, and ARM, which no longer operates gold mines, have been named in the claims.Friday's ruling is separate from a $30 million silicosis settlement with 4,400 miners reached in March by Anglo American and AngloGold.
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