AngloGold Ashanti faces health-related negligence charges

Thirty-one former South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) miners are taking the company to court, accusing its executives of health-related negligence.

The miners claim, reports Reuters, that they contracted the lung disease silicosis and silico-tuberculosis after being exposed to excessive levels of dust while working at the Vaal Reefs gold mine. This one was owned and operated by Vaal Reefs Exploration & Mining Company, now known as AngloGold Ashanti.

Lawyers from Leigh Day & Co, who have participated in similar lawsuits in the past, claim that 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.”

AngloGold Ashanti’s case is separate from another silicosis class action suit filed in August against AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony on behalf of thousands of workers.

Anglo American is also facing similar accusations, even though the company no longer has gold assets in the country. The South African unit will face a hearing in 2013 to conclude whether it is liable for the employees who contracted silicosis while working in its gold shafts.