More than 1,200 former South African miners are suing Anglo American for failing to provide protection from dangerous dust levels in underground gold mines from the 1960s to 1990s.
According to The Guardian workers claim Anglo American South Africa is to blame for them developing silicosis, an incurable lung disease that often leads to tuberculosis.
South African mining medical expert Tony Davis told The Guardian silicosis was similar to asbestosis and was a "river of disease flowing out of the South African gold mines".
Anglo American is denying liability for the health complications.
It says it was only a minority holder of the mines in question and currently has no stake in them.
Miners wish to bring their case to the High Court in London, but Anglo says the case is against its South African subsidiary and should stay in South Africa.
More than 1,200 former workers are joining the case, and Leigh Day, the firm representing them, said the number could swell to tens of thousands with a potential payout worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Many of the miners involved in the case cannot read or write and signed to the class action using a thumb print.
Richard Meeran, a partner at Leigh Day, told The Guardian Anglo American South Africa recruited hundreds of thousands of labourers across South Africa and neighbouring regions during apartheid.
He said white managers were rarely sent down the mineshafts and when they did they had much better respiratory equipment than their black workers.