MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Zambia: Toxic gas from KCM operations sends many to hospital

Published by MAC on 2019-11-16
Source: News Diggers [Zambia]

The damaging legacy of Vedanta's parlous mining venture in Zambia continues to inflict the country's citizens.

KCM workers, exam pupils hospitalised in Chingola after inhaling toxic gas
from Nchanga Mine

By Mukosha Funga

News Diggers

15 November 2019

About 40 KCM employees and hundreds of people including exam pupils at
Nchanga Trust Secondary School have been evacuated to Nchanga South Mine
Hospital in Chingola after inhaling toxic gas from an acid spillage at
Konkola Copper Mines.

According to employee witnesses, the Acid Plant under smelter at Nchanga
Mine developed an electric fault, Thursday around 18:25 hours, thereby
causing the Sulphuric acid to escape from the converter.

“The acid plant under smelter experienced an electric surge around 18:25
hours yesterday. This resulted in the plant converter to go off, and upon
restoring power and switching on the acid plant, the sulphuric acid
escaped from the converter, thereby affecting much of the plant areas
including Nchanga Underground and surrounding areas,”said the source.

“By 23:00 hours, the surface air quality was compromised, polluting the
atmosphere and causing running noses, eye irritation and difficulty in
breathing among other symptoms. Nchanga Open Pit has evacuated about 40
employees to hospital and they have been admitted for observation.

A hospital source told News Diggers that all pupils, including exam
classes at Nchanga Trust School have been evacuated to hospital this
morning after they inhaled the toxic gas.

“All the Pupils from the Nchanga Trust secondary school have been
evacuated to Nchanga south Mine hospital for treatment and observation.
Those affected include Examination classes. The hospital has been
overwhelmed as the number of pupils being brought in for treatment after
gas exposure keeps swelling,”said a hospital source who opted for

According to KCM sources, the problem started a few weeks ago as a result
of frequent power failure.

“The problem at the Plant started a couple of weeks ago after major
maintenance (boiler leak repair), stabilisation affected due to frequent
power failures resulting in low temperature in conversion and higher stack
emission. The plant was producing 360tpd,” said a KCM technician.

Mukosha Funga is interested in good governance and anti-corruption reporting.


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