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Five South African mining firms have formed an industry working group to address issues associated with occupational lung disease (OLD) in the country’s gold mining sector.

Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and Sibanye will address issues relating to compensation and medical care for OLD.

The companies aim to design and implement a solution that is fair to past, present and future gold mining employees, and also sustainable for the industry.

"The companies…believe that they should work together to seek a solution to this South African mining industry legacy issue." 

Plans include arranging initial meetings with the departments of health, labour and mineral resources, organised labour, legal representatives of claimants and other mining firms.

The five companies are among respondent firms in several lawsuits associated with OLD.

The working group released a statement saying: "These companies do not believe that they are liable in respect of the claims brought, and they are defending these.

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By GlobalData

"The companies do, however, believe that they should work together to seek a solution to this South African mining industry legacy issue."

Gold mining firms have been working for years to eliminate OLD via enhanced underground dust management and other measures.

Bloomberg reported that lawyers representing more than 25,000 miners filed an application in 2013 to combine three pending cases against producers.

SBG Securities mining analyst in Johannesburg David Davis said in 2011 that South Africa’s gold mines prompted around 1,140 new cases of OLD each year between 1980 to 1990.