Anglo American wins silicosis case in the UK, miners take claim to S. Africa

London’s High Court threw out a lawsuit against Anglo American brought by thousands of former gold miners who contracted the deadly lung disease silicosis while working at mines run by the South African arm of giant miner Anglo American (LON:AAL).

Although Anglo, which moved its headquarters from Johannesburg to London in 1999, does not operate any gold mines in South Africa any longer, lawyers from Leigh Day & Co., who are representing the former workers, said they’ll take the case to Johannesburg.

Leigh Day & Co. claims Anglo’s African unit still had assets of nearly $15 billion and, as the parent company, the diversified miner should respond for not having properly “controlled and advised its mines with regard to prevention of dust exposure and silicosis."

“Today’s ruling was a pyrrhic victory for Anglo American, which as the largest gold mining company over the past 50 years still has to face compelling claims by thousands of miners affected by dust-related lung diseases,” Richard Meeran of Leigh Day said in a statement.

Anglo is not the only resource firm facing lawsuits. More than 200,000 workers are suing 30 mining companies, including some of the world's leading gold producers  such as AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU), Goldfields (NYSE:GFI) and Harmony Gold (NYSE:HMY).

Little research has been conducted into the incidence of lung disease amongst South African miners, and the few studies undertaken by mining companies so far have focused largely upon white workers.

Until 1998 Anglo American was one of the biggest, if not the largest, mining houses in South Africa.