Anglo American South Africa (AASA) was the head office company of the Anglo American group until 1998 when the group underwent a restructuring including the establishment of Anglo American plc and a London-based group headquarters.
AASA has been the primary focus of Leigh Day’s legal actions for three main reasons:
1. Until 1998 Anglo American was one of the largest (if not the largest) mining houses in South Africa. In its 1970 Annual Report AASA stated that ‘Group mines were responsible for 40 per cent of South Africa’s gold production, equivalent to 31 per cent of world production (excluding communist countries)’. AASA’s potential silicosis liability is by far and away the largest of any company in South Africa.
Up to 1998, there were 11 Anglo American gold mines in South Africa, spread out over Gauteng, North West Province and the Free State, in respect of which AASA was the head office company. These were:
- President Steyn, President Brand, Western Holdings, Welkom, Freddies, Free State Geduld, Free State Saaiplaas and Joel were mines in the Free State.
- Western Deep Levels and Elandsrand in the West Rand.
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2. Through their extensive and integral involvement in the President Steyn litigation, Leigh Day and Mbuyisa Neale acquired a detailed knowledge of the evidence that was relevant to litigation against AASA. To that end, they reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents disclosed by AASA in the President Steyn litigation. They also engaged in detailed consultations with a range of South African and international mining and medical experts. In light of this knowledge and experience, Leigh Day and Mbuyisa Neale were confident that the case against AASA was strong.
3. AASA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of London-based multinational mining giant Anglo American plc. According to recent accounts, the Anglo American group has assets of US$21 billion (approx). Consequently, AASA’s pockets are sufficiently deep to cover its extensive potential silicosis liability.