MAC: Mines and Communities

Vedanta: serial offending in Zambia too?

Published by MAC on 2010-12-27
Source: SteelGuru

Last month, Vedanta's Zambian subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) was fined in court for polluting the very river it had poisoned four years earlier in the north of the country.

In November 2006, effluents cascaded from a burst slurry pipeline into the Kafue river, raising chemical concentrations to 1,000% of acceptable levels for copper, 77,000% of those for manganese and 10,000% for cobalt. See: Complaints about Vedanta

Following the most recent event, the UK company was also found guilty of willfully failing to report it to the authorities.

KCM's lawyer Mr Elijah Banda reportedly told the court that the company "was remorseful and...had undertaken necessary measures to mitigate the damage caused and to prevent future incidents."

Of course, that's exactly what Vedanta had promised after the disaster back in 2006.

Konkola Copper fined KCM USD 4000 for polluting water in Kafue River


28 November 2010

A court in Zambia has fined Konkola Copper Mine more than USD 4,000 for polluting water in Kafue River last month after some effluent seeped into the stream, a source of livelihood for more than 20,000 Chingola residents.

The Chingola magistrate Court fined KCM ZMK 21.9 million after the miner was found guilty on four counts of pollution in October following a legal suit filed by the Environmental Council of Zambia that sought redress.

Mr Sililo Siloka resident magistrate handed down the sentence after the miner through their Mr David Ngandu GM of Nchanga admitted to the pollution of the river an action that took place between 0ctober 29th to 31st 2010 resulting in the water utility company shutting off the water to the residents in the area.

According to the facts before the court in the first count, the company was charged with polluting the environment contrary to section 91 (1) of the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act 12 of 1990 Cap 204 of the laws of Zambia.

In the second count, it was charged with discharging poisonous, toxic, ecotoxic, obnoxious or obstructing matter, radiation or other pollutant into the aquatic environment contrary to sections 24 and 91 (1) of the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act 12 of 1990 chapter 204 of the laws of Zambia.

In the third count KCM was found guilty of wilfully failing to report an act or incident of pollution of the environment contrary to section 86 subsections (1) and (3) of the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act 12 of 1990 cap 204 of the laws of Zambia.

KCM wifully failed to report the incident without delay following the pollution incident at the accused' premises, leading to pollution of the environment in Chingola. In the fourth count the court established that KCM failed to comply with the requirements for discharge of effluent contrary to regulation 12 (b) of the environmental protection and pollution control regulations statutory instrument 172 of 1993.

The company on the dates in question failed to comply with requirements by discharging pregnant toxic liquor solution into the aquatic environment with concentration above the prescribed statutory limits. Further facts stated that officers from the Environmental Council of Zambia visited the site of the pollution and that the company expressed ignorance concerning the pollution but that later agreed that the source of the pollution was from its tailings leach plant.

KCM through its lawyer Mr Elijah Banda said that it was remorseful and that it had undertaken necessary measures to mitigate the damage caused and to prevent future incidents. The company is expected to comply with immediate effect. Recently, KCM disposed and allowed some effluent to seep into the Kafue River and affected more than 20,000 people that depend on the water for their livelihood.

According to Ms Jacquiline Kabeta KCM head of corporate affairs investigations into the preg tank that happened at the Nchanga Integrated Business Unit of KCM and it was confirmed that it was an isolated spill that escaped into the Kafue River resulting in the pollution of the water, used by Chingola residents and others in surrounding areas.

After investigations by a combined team of experts including officials from Mulonga Water Supply Company and KCM safety and environment specialists toured the Tailings Leach Plant where the leak took place it was noted that water had been polluted forcing the water utility to shut the taps for days.

Nkana Water and Sewerage Company had temporarily suspended water supply to its customers following reports of raw water contamination in the Kafue River in Chingola.

Ms Diana Makwaba company official said that preliminary investigations had shown that the pH was normal. Following reports of raw water pollution in the Kafue River in Chingola we carried out preliminary investigations to establish the downstream impact of the said pollution on the raw water in Kitwe and the preliminary investigations have shown that the pH is normal.

Konkola Copper Mines was last reported to have polluted water in the Kafue River in 2006 with the latest pollution being confirmed by the Environmental Council of Zambia. A similar case of pollution happened at First Quantum Mining Glencore AG International run Mopani Copper Mine's Mufulira unit where the miner released some effluent into the water resulting in the local water utility company and the municipality to penalize the company, although the matter was not taken to court for similar action.

Recently Zambia's leading miner movement, Mine workers Union of Zambian regretted that pollution of water and air by mining industries operating in Zambia to maximize profitability from the country's mineral wealth is becoming a threat to the environment and welfare of the people and needs urgent redress.

Mr Charles Muchimba MUZ head of research said that one of the major and persistent problems concerning the mining industries is the industrial pollution for the surrounding towns, communities, landscapes and water reserves.

Although there are laws and guidelines as stipulated by the country through the Environmental Council of Zambia, pollution of the environment by mining companies remained a major concern that needed to be redressed for all players to benefit from the investment in the mining and copper sector.

(Filed by Mr Kapembwa Sinkamba SteelGuru Correspondent Zambia)

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