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21 Oct 2020

Leigh Day

South Africa: Class action filed against Anglo American by lead poisoning victims, including children

'Anglo American sued on behalf of children and women poisoned by the world’s most toxic lead mine', 21 October 2020

The action has been filed on behalf of a class estimated to comprise more than 100,000 individuals in the Kabwe District of Zambia who are believed to have been poisoned by lead. The application is brought by 13 representative plaintiffs on behalf of children under 18, and girls and women who have been or may become pregnant in the future.

... The claimants – principally young children – are suffering from alarming levels of lead poisoning which, depending on various factors including the blood lead level (“BLL”), causes a range of significant conditions, from psychological, intellectual and behavioural damage to serious and permanent physical damage to their bodily organs, neurological systems and fertility. In extreme cases, serious brain damage and deaths occur. In pregnant women, lead they ingested as children is absorbed into their bones and released during pregnancy.

... The Kabwe mine was part of AASA group from 1925 until 1974 and was one of the world’s most productive lead mines during this time. It is alleged in the class action that AASA is liable, including for the following, because of AASA’s role in controlling, managing, supervising and advising on the technical, medical and safety aspects of the mine’s operations

... The class action seeks to pursue remedies in the form of compensation for these children, as well as girls and women with lead poisoning who have or may become pregnant in the future.