Mining Company Vows To Oppose Zambia Lead Poisoning Lawsuit

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Mining giant Anglo-American said on Monday that it would oppose any appeals by a group of Zambian women and children who are suing it for alleged mass lead poisoning.

The Johannesburg High Court had on Friday allowed the claimants to appeal against an earlier ruling that threw out their class action lawsuit against Anglo-American South Africa (AASA).

The lawsuit claims that more than 140,000 people may have been poisoned, over generations, by exposure to toxins from a lead mine in Zambia’s Kabwe district, where AASA was a shareholder from 1925 to 1974.

Anglo-American said, “It has every sympathy for the situation in Kabwe, but is not responsible for it”.

A joint statement by Mbuyisa Moleele Attorneys and Leigh Day, the law firms representing the claimants, said the ruling was a “crucial step towards achieving justice” for the women and children.

The Johannesburg High Court judge Justice Leonie Wendell said that there were “compelling reasons to grant the appeal” and that the appeal had “reasonable prospects of success”, the lawyers said in a statement on Monday.

They added that the claimants had “clear” evidence to support their allegations.

“From the early 1970s children were already falling ill and dying of lead poisoning, and a high proportion of them were suffering from massive blood lead levels.”

The case is now expected to go to South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal later this year.