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Zambia: Over 200 school children and 43 miners admitted to hospital following alleged leak of sulphuric from mine

Over 200 pupils and 40 KCM employees in Chingola were rushed to hospitals after inhaling sulphuric acid which Konkola Copper Mines (‘KCM’) released from its acid plant. Reports from the scene, say the mine plant was on Thursday around 19:00 hours shut down temporarily following power disruption. However, when the acid plant was switched on after power was restored around 02:00 hours, there was an emission of gases which choked miners who were on duty. The Zambian Minister of Mines has called for the Zambia Environmental Management Agency to use all provisions of the law to deal with Konkola Copper Mines. KCM’s parent company Vedanta says it has not had access to any of KCM’s facilities since the provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu was appointed on May 21.

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Article
19 November 2019

Zambia: Mines urged to ensure safety of workers and communities after ‘sulphur dioxide leak’ and mining plant

Author: Zambia Daily Mail

‘Mines should prioritise health, safety’ 16 November 2019

WE ARE deeply concerned about the incident that happened yesterday when over 200 pupils at Nchanga Trust Secondary School and 43 miners at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola were admitted to hospital after being choked by a cocktail of unknown gases emitted from an acid plant at Nchanga Mine. According to reports from the scene, the mine plant was on Thursday around 19:00 hours shut down temporarily following power disruption.

Due to congestion, 53 miners who had suffocated in the night were evacuated to Konkola Mine Hospital in Chililabombwe. Whereas it is comforting that the Grade 12 pupils were treated and discharged and allowed to sit for the examinations, which started two hours later, it is worth noting that the traumatic experience they went through could affect their performance in the examinations. While we are also happy that there was no loss of life and the affected pupils and miners are in a stable condition, the incident raises serious concerns about occupational health and safety at the mines.

… It is hoped that thorough investigations will be conducted to establish what really transpired at Nchanga Mine to avoid any such re-occurrence. As the affected pupils go back to school and miners to their work station, it is important to make sure that the premises are safe for them to operate from. Needless to say lessons must be drawn that mining companies cannot afford to leave any stone unturned in ensuring environmental and occupational health and safety.

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Article
19 November 2019

Zambia: Minister wants tough action against mining company responsible for sulphur dioxide leak incident

Author: Lusaka Times (Zambia)

‘Mines Minister calls for action after 200 pupils were rushed to hospital after inhaling emissions from KCM’ 19 November 2019

Mines Minister Richard Musukwa has directed the Mine Safety Department and Zambia Environmental Management Agency to use all provisions of the law to deal with Konkola Copper Mines -KCM following the air pollution which happened in Chingola last week. Last week, over 200 pupils and 40 KCM employees in Chingola were rushed to hospitals after inhaling sulphuric acid which KCM released from its acid plant.

…Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Chingola District Commissioner Mary Chibesa, the Minister said the two agencies must use all the provisions of the law to deal with KCM because its pollution is well documented. Mr. Musukwa said once KCM is made to answer for its actions, all mining houses will see it as an example not to indiscriminately pollute the environment.

…Earlier, Mrs. Chibesa said KCM had been polluting rivers and fields for a long time. She complained that despite several pleas from her office, KCM has not been responding to the many incidences of pollution. The Mines Minister, who is accompanied by Director Mine Safety Mooya Lumamba and Nchanga Member of Parliament Chali Chilombo, is about to visit the acid plant were the sulphuric acid was discharged last week.

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Article
19 November 2019

Zambia: Vedanta says that it has not had access to cite of ‘sulphur dioxide leak’ incident for 6 months

Author: The Mast (Zambia)

‘Vedanta concerned about sulphur dioxide leak at KCM smelter’ 17 November 2019

Diversified miner Vedanta Resources on Friday said it was “deeply concerned” about reports of a sulphur dioxide leak at the Nchanga smelter acid plant owned by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), in Zambia. It noted that reports have emerged that KCM employees and pupils attending the nearby Nchanga Trust School were hospitalised as a result. Vedanta has not had access to any of KCM’s facilities since the provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu was appointed on May 21.

Vedanta said it had, on several occasions in the six months since then, attempted to engage with Lungu on areas of concern, especially as regards issues of safety and maintenance at KCM’s facilities. On Friday, over 50 KCM employees and several pupils at Nchanga Trust School were taken to Nchanga South Hospital after being affected by the abnormal Sulphur Dioxide discharge. According to sources at the mine, the situation which happened around 02:00 hours resulted in more than 50 employees suffocating.

…“The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) would like to inform members of the general public that there was an incident recorded last night, 14th November, 2019 at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Nchanga Mine involving an abnormal discharge of Sulphur Dioxide from the Sulphur Burner component of the Acid Plant. This unfortunate incident resulted in a number of people living in the surrounding areas of the plant being affected by the emissions. Preliminary information made available by KCM indicates that some people have been hospitalised,” said Chipili.

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