Our sectors

To:
postbox@leighday.co.uk
We treat all personal data in accordance with our privacy policy.
Show Site Navigation

Gold miners launch legal action against Anglo American

Legal proceedings have begun in South Africa against the Anglo American Corporation on behalf of eight South African ex-gold miners. The case is being handled by Martyn Day and Gene Matthews in the International department of Leigh Day & Co.

Photo: istock

23 August 2004

Legal proceedings have been launched on behalf of eight South African former gold miners and their families against the Anglo American Corporation of South Africa Ltd.  

The test cases, due to be heard in the Johannesburg High Court, are demanding compensation for gold miners affected by silicosis and pthisis (a combination of silicosis and tuberculosis). They also hope to establish a fund to monitor and treat occupational lung disease in ex-gold miners. This fund would be a boost to the existing under-resourced state health systems.  

The case is being run by South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre, the main provider of legal aid in the country, which is highly regarded for its work in public interest legal cases.  

The Centre is being assisted by Martyn Day and Gene Matthews in the International Department of Leigh Day & Co, which successfully represented South African asbestos miners against Cape PLC and mercury-poisoned workers in South Africa against Thor Chemicals.

Gold mining in South Africa has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of cases of silicosis over the last hundred years, even though the adverse health effects of asbestos and silica were known more than 100 years ago.  

The mining industry showed a flagrant disregard for the health of its workers

Exposure to silica dust also increases the risk of TB and this was known in South Africa as long ago as 1913. Yet the mining industry appears to have had a flagrant disregard for the health of its workers. Evidence obtained shows that on-site showers and change room facilities to remove toxic dust from workers' clothes and bodies were not provided for black workers.  

Martyn Day said: “The similarities with what happened to the hundreds of thousands of workers injured by the asbestos industry is striking. We were able to obtain many millions of pounds for thousands of South African asbestos workers- I am hopeful we can be a part of ensuring that the gold mining industry is similarly brought to book.”

Assistance from the legal team was sought by the Bond Victims' Association (BVA) in the Welkom area of South Africa. Dan Mofokeng of the BVA said: "Our community-based organisation has been assisting numerous gold miners in the Welkom area. Sick miners and their families have been left jobless and impoverished".  

The mines were owned by Anglo American

The claims relate to employment at various mines, which were owned until 1998 by Anglo American Corporation of South Africa, a parent company that underwent a restructuring in 1999 that resulted in the move of its headquarters to London. At the same time ownership of the shares in these mines was transferred to Anglo Gold.  

Evidence shows that the Anglo American parent company had a direct link in the technical and medical aspects of all it gold mining operations. This means that the present proceedings can be brought against the Anglo parent company.  

For more information please contact Martyn Day or Gene Matthews on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Share this page: Print this page