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Anglo American reaches silicosis deal in South Africa

Mining giant Anglo American said Wednesday its South African arm has reached a deal to end 23 long-running claims by miners who say they contracted the disease silicosis from breathing dust in its mines.

The firm said it had reached a settlement with 23 people who claimed they got the disease, which has no known cure, from inhaling dangerous levels of silica dust while drilling rocks in gold mines.

The cases were brought in 2004 and 2009.

“The settlement has been reached without admission of liability,” Anglo American’s South African affiliate said in a statement.

The terms of the agreement were not published.

The cases are among the thousands of silicosis-related suits brought against mining firms in South Africa.

Anglo also faces a separate class-action suit brought by around 3,000 miners.

When miners are exposed to excessive amounts of silica dust, it gets locked in their lungs and permanently scars them.

Symptoms include persistent coughing and shortness of breath. The disease often leads to tuberculosis and death.