top of page

Litigating for the Health & Well-Being of


RSI graphic.png


In August 2023, human rights lawyer Richard Spoor filed an application for certification of a class action in the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division against global mining companies South32, BHP Billiton PLC and Seriti Power. This action seeks legal remedies for sick coal miners and their families and is a first step toward redressing a historical and ongoing injustice for those who have suffered debilitating lung diseases after working in South32, BHP Billiton and Seriti Power's South African coal mines.


More than 100 years of coal mining in South Africa have left a legacy of disease among tens of thousands of coal mine workers, many of whom have suffered severe consequences in the form of loss of employment, disability and premature death. These consequences linger, often affecting the families and dependents of the workers. Coal mine dust can cause miners to develop a variety of life-threatening lung diseases, including pneumoconiosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Attorneys at RSI are leaders in the area of occupational health and safety and have a history of bringing and resolving landmark cases throughout South Africa for people affected by workplace injuries and diseases. Our close engagement with mineworkers and their loved ones has given our team insight into the devasting impact mining often has on workers, their families and communities. We work alongside our U.S. consulting law firm, Motley Rice LLC, to strengthen our global insights and depth of knowledge.


Without adequate protections, coal miners can inhale dangerous amounts of coal mine dust that is generated and raised into the air in the course of coal mining operations. Coal mine dust results in chronic lung diseases collectively known as coal mine dust lung disease (CMDLD) which includes two main types of disease- pneumoconiosis (black lung) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


This burden of coal mine dust lung disease has been borne by those who can least afford it, and who have historically been excluded from legal redress because of their vulnerable and marginalised position in society. This action includes current and former mineworkers who have contracted lung disease from March 12, 1965, to the present. It also includes dependents of mineworkers who have died because of a probable attribution to coal mine dust lung disease. This litigation will cover coal mine workers and dependents from many regions and rural communities given that miners often travel from afar to gain employment. 

“We know that there is a long and difficult road ahead for miners who are already paying a heavy price for their labour. While compensation will not restore their health, we seek justice for those whose work has sent them home bearing the high cost of coal on their bodies.”

Richard Spoor

Human Rights Lawyer

bottom of page