A LONDON law firm, Leigh Day, has taken Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to the London High Court on behalf of 1,800 villagers who claim to have suffered injury from drinking polluted water.
The firm has been sued for allegedly spilling acid and polluting drinking water in some communities on the Copperbelt which is believed to have affected the health of some 1,800 people.
But Vedanta Resources which owns KCM, says the law firm was nothing more than troublemakers whom they said were a thorn in the side of multinationals.
“All Vedanta operating subsidiaries take the health of their employees, the well-being of surrounding communities and the environment very seriously. Our subsidiaries are committed to ensuring they operate in a safe and sustainable way,” a Vedanta spokesman said.
Leigh Day, senior partner Martyn Day who was recently in Zambia, however, feared that the case could take three years before it could be resolved but a Vedanta spokesman said all subsidiaries of Vedanta took the health of their employees, well-being of the surrounding communities and their environment seriously.
Leaked documents and confidential audit report said to have been commissioned from Canadian pollution control experts reportedly show that Vedanta Resources, the giant mine in Zambia’s Copperbelt region has been spilling sulphuric acid and toxic chemicals into rivers, streams and underground aquifers used for drinking water near the mining town of Chingola.
The report by the Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin which was in 2010 employed to advise Vedanta/KCM on how to control continuing pollution said solids, dissolved copper and acids were being spilled into rivers and aquifers for drinking water and scientist said to have worked for KCM for more than 15 years said despite producing 10,000 tonnes of copper and 300 tonnes of cobalt annually, the mining giant was allegedly releasing more acid than it had authority for.