South African miners face an epidemic of occupational lung diseases. Despite a plethora of research on the mining industry, and the gold mining industry in particular, research impact (including disease surveillance) on policy implementation and occupational health systems performance lags. We describe the gold mining environment, and research on silicosis, tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, and compensation for occupational disease including initiatives to influence policy and thus reduce dust levels and disease. As these have been largely unsuccessful, we identify possible impediments, some common to other low- and middle-income countries, to the translation of research findings and policy initiatives into effective interventions.
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