Johannesburg - Papers have been filed against several gold mining companies in the High Court in Johannesburg in a potential class-action lawsuit, according to a report on Wednesday.

This was a preliminary step to determine whether a class-action case could be brought against AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold and some of its subsidiaries, including African Rainbow Minerals, Business Day reported.

This would be the biggest damages lawsuit in South Africa's history from thousands of workers suffering from lung disease, which workers say was caused by negligence on the part of the mining companies.

Business Day quoted lawyer Charles Abrahams as saying the claims could run into tens of billions of rands and would represent between 350,000 to 500,000 workers. - Sapa