Zambia and Vedanta go to battle in courtPublished by MAC on 2017-01-14
Source: Statement, Reuters, Footprint Africa (2017-01-12)
Relations between the Zambian Government and Vedanta seem somewhat strained at present - to say the least.
It's taking legal action against the UK-listed comapny, accusing its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) of polluting the drinking water and the environment of local people.
Also, in December 2016, British courts ordered KCM to pay the Zambian Government US$100 million in a dispute related to revenues due to it from an agreement signed in 2013.
At the same time, the Government has arrested and charged a UK-based lawyer under the Public Order Act for meeting with community clients who are also pursuing action against the company in the UK.
The police allegedly arrived in company vehicles, although KCM denies any involvement in the arrest.
Zambia Drags Mining Firm to Court over Pollution
By Ifeoma Ekeke
6 January 2017
Zambia’s environmental regulator on Tuesday revealed that it has commenced legal proceedings against Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources, over the pollution of drinking water and the environment in one mining town on the Copperbelt Province.
Ireen Chipili, the spokesperson of the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) said legal proceedings have been instituted against the firm after investigations found Konkola culpable for the pollution of a river and the environment in Chingola town.
She disclosed that samples taken from seven facilities in the town for analysis revealed that the firm was responsible for the pollution.
The spokesperson however noted that a comprehensive statement will soon be issued on what action would be taken against the firm after all legal proceedings are concluded.
“We have to follow what the law says. We have to follow what the Environmental Act says is the procedure to take for the prosecution of a polluter,” she said, according to HOT FM radio.
Last month, a London court ordered the firm to pay the Zambian government 100 million U.S. dollars in outstanding funds as part of a settlement agreement entered into in 2013.
Meanwhile, the government has warned that it will take action against mining firms polluting the environment in areas where they operate.
Minister of Water Development and Sanitation Lloyd Mulenga said experts from ZEMA have been sent to assess the extent of water pollution on Kafue River, a major river that supplies water to most towns on the Copperbelt Province to ascertain the extent of the pollution.
Residents of mining towns complained recently over the quality of water they were drinking after some mining firms discharged effluents in the river.
British court orders Vedanta's Zambia unit to pay government $100 million
20 December 2016
LUSAKA – Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), owned by Vedanta Resources, has been ordered by a London court to pay the Zambian government more than $100 million (80.65 million pounds) for a claim related to the copper price, a state-owned company involved in the dispute said.
The claim relates to outstanding payments under a 2013 copper price participation settlement agreement between KCM and Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investments Holdings (ZCCM-IH), the latter said late on Monday.
In June this year, ZCCM-IH filed the claim with the English High Court to recover over $100 million it said was owed to it from KCM in terms of the 2013 agreement.
“We now advise that ZCCM-IH has been successful in its application for default judgment. KCM has been ordered (on 16 December 2016) to pay all sums owed to ZCCM-IH,” the state company said.
“The total amount to be paid by KCM amounts to approximately $103 million. KCM has also been ordered to reimburse ZCCM-IH 80 percent of the costs it has incurred in pursuing its claim.”
A ZCCM-IH spokeswoman said the company and KCM planned to issue a joint press statement on Tuesday to give further details of the ruling.
(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Ed Cropley)
Leigh Day lawyer arrested in Zambia whilst meeting clients
Lawyer from the international group claims team arrested in Zambia as he met with four communities bringing claims against Vedanta Resources plc and their subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines Zambia
12 January 2017
A lawyer from the international group claims team at Leigh Day was arrested in Zambia as he met with four communities bringing claims against Vedanta Resources plc and their subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines.
Oliver Holland a lawyer from Leigh Day was in Zambia to meet with the communities to discuss their claims which relate to alleged pollution from the copper mine in Chingola which they claim is causing damage to farming land and water sources of our clients.
Mr Holland was meeting with Leigh Day’s clients in their communities to update them on the case when he was arrested for holding a public meeting.
He was arrested under the Public Order Act, stemming from colonial times, which states that holding a meeting of more than three people requires that a police permit must be obtained.
It is understood that the law is normally only used during election times by political parties.
Mr Holland was held without charge in the police cells for four hours without access to a lawyer, food or water.
According to Leigh Day this was an ‘excessive response’ to the eventual charge of ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’ which is a misdemeanour, not a criminal offence, which resulted in Mr Holland paying a ZMK50 ($5) fine.
According to Mr Holland the initial arresting police officers involved were driving a vehicle displaying the Konkola Copper Mines logo.
Mr Holland said: “We will be writing immediately to KCM’s lawyers to obtain a full explanation as to their seeming involvement into my arrest.
“We will be seeking assurances both from the Defendants and from the Zambian government that we will not be prevented from meeting our clients in the future.
“The ability for clients to meet with their lawyers is essential in their pursuit of justice and is a vital element of any fair and open society.”
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Leigh Day demands answers after lawyer arrest in Zambia
By John Hyde
12 January 2017
Claimant firm Leigh Day will demand a full explanation after one of its lawyers was arrested meeting clients in Zambia.
The firm says its lawyer Oliver Holland was detained for four hours by the southern African state before being released having paid a small fine.
Holland told the Gazette he was held in police cells without access to a lawyer, food or water.
The firm had been meeting with local communities to discuss their claims relating to alleged pollution from a copper mine which they claim is causing damage to farming land and water sources. The claim is against multinational corporation Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines.
Holland said the initial arresting officers involved were driving a vehicle displaying the Konkola Copper Mines logo. Holland said: ‘We will be seeking assurances both from the defendants and from the Zambian government that we will not be prevented from meeting our clients in the future.
'The ability for clients to meet with their lawyers is essential in their pursuit of justice and is a vital element of any fair and open society.’
A spokeswoman for KCM has clarified that the company played no part in what happened.
She said: 'KCM has learnt about the alleged incident and can confirm that the company had no involvement in the police operation. KCM agrees that the rights of clients to meet with their lawyers is important and should be protected.'
Holland was arrested under the Public Order Act, which states that holding a meeting of more than three people requires a police permit. The act is usually invoked during election times by political parties.
Leigh Day said the response was ‘excessive’. Holland was eventually charged with the misdemeanour ‘conduct likely to cause a breach of peace’, which resulted in him paying a ZMK50 ($5/£4) fine.