The Johannesburg high court has reserved judgment in the case in which a former miner is suing AngloGold Ashanti.
Thembekile Mankayi, 49, of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape is suing the mining giant for R2,7million in damages.
A former miner at the Vaal Reefs plant in North West, Mankayi was dismissed in 1995 after contracting silicosis and silico-tuberculosis due to exposure to dust and gases.
He was compensated with R16000.
Advocate David Untelhalter SC argued that the mine was responsible for injuries or disease acquired in their employ and refusing Mankayi the right to sue would be unjust.
A ruling favouring Mankayi will allow former miners the position to sue their employers on grounds of negligence for exposing them to harmful quantities of toxic dust and gases, said instructing defence attorney Richard Spoor.