Leigh Day goes digging in gold mining litigation

Leigh Day & Co is gearing up for a battle with Anglo American over a potentially huge lawsuit, which claims that thousands of gold-miners developed respiratory illness while working for the South African mining giant.

The class action will accuse London-listed Anglo American of failing to provide adequate protection for the employees, who allegedly fell ill after breathing in silica dust while working in the company’s gold mines.

Leigh Day partner Richard Meeran is heading up the claim, which could also extend to Harmony and Gold Fields, two other gold-mining companies.

The UK firm already has experience of representing victims of asbestosis after acting in claims against mining company Cape and Thor Chemicals. There are potentially up to 100,000 apartheid-era workers lining up to take action against Anglo American.

Meeran, who is working with local firm Von Klemperers, said the case will follow the lines of a UK class action, so it will be run on a conditional fee arrangement rather than on a US-style contingency basis.

Leigh Day and Von Klemperers are still recruiting class action members and no claim has been issued as yet.

It is understood that Anglo American has not yet engaged lawyers, but will fight the suit with its regular litigation firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the UK and Webber Wentzel Bowens in South Africa.