Zambia: Supreme Court rules in favour of claimants in water contamination lawsuit; does not award compensation or order clean-up by Konkola Copper Mines

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20 May 2019

Zambia: Government to strip Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines of mining license over alleged license breaches

Author: Chris Mfula, Reuters

"Zambia seeks 'divorce' from Vedanta over alleged mining breaches", 20 May 2019.

Zambia plans to strip Vedanta-controlled Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) of its mining license and bring a new investor into the operation...Zambian President Edgar Lungu announced the plan on Monday, which his spokesman said followed a number of breaches of the terms of the license, without giving details. Zambia...has also proposed tax changes that Lungu says he will push through, despite opposition from international miners which say they will deter investment...Some miners have already reduced or threatened to cut output, although First Quantum said it had abandoned plans to lay off workers. Union leaders on Monday called on Glencore to reverse its decision to close two shafts...The plan mirrors moves in other parts of Africa, where countries are trying to secure greater benefits from natural resources being managed by foreign companies. 

Vedanta said it was seeking an urgent meeting with Lungu over the future of KCM and that it had not received formal communication from the government...The government, which also has a stake in KCM through a state mining company, “(is) fully apprised of and party to the circumstances of the company and major decisions that have been taken,” Vedanta added. Presidential spokesman Amos Chanda told Reuters a notice had been issued to KCM in April last year over a number of breaches of the terms of its license and it had not convinced the government it should keep the license...Demonstrators marched in Chingola in Zambia’s copper belt to welcome the decision to bring in another investor. Mine Workers’ Union of Zambia (MUZ) President Joseph Chewe called on the president to bring in “a credible investor, not Chinese”, with public opinion turning against China’s extensive asset ownership in the country...

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3 April 2015

The Supreme Court upholds KCM’s High Court guilty verdict of water pollution which poisoned more than 2000 people in 2006

Author: Lusaka Times (Zambia)

The Supreme Court of Zambia on Thursday upheld a 2011 High Court verdict which found Konkola Copper Mines guilty of water pollution which poisoned thousands of Chingola residents in 2006…Today’s judgement delivered some justice to the poisoned victims after eight long years wait, but will not award compensation until an assessment is carried out by the High Court Deputy Registrar. This is likely to reduce the total award since the claimants were only able to show twelve medical reports which they had been able to obtain at the time of the pollution incident. The High Court had previously ruled that these twelve reports were indicative of the damage caused to all residents who had drunk the water, and had heard testimonies from victims who were unable to obtain medical reports from the doctors...Twenty two of the original 2000 claimants have now died, some from liver and kidney damage potentially caused by the poisoned water, but the rest have awaited justice for eight years. In the landmark ruling in 2011 High Court judge Phillip Musonda said he wanted to make an example of KCM for their ‘gross recklessness’. He also stated that the courts have a duty to protect poor communities from the powerful and politically connected. However, Vedanta (KCM) subsequently challenged this decision, claiming they were not responsible for the contamination...

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2 April 2015

Appeal between Konkola Copper Mines Plc and James Nyasulu and 2,000 others

Author: Supreme Court of Zambia

[Full text of the Supreme Court decision in favour of claimants, but not ordering their compensatipn or a clean up of the sites.]

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12 December 2011

Zambia: High Court orders Konkola Copper Mines to pay 2 million USD for polluting River Mushishima

Author: Newton Sibanda, on Water Journalists Africa

In a landmark judgment, the Lusaka High Court has ordered Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to pay K10billion (US$2million) to 2000 Chingola residents on Zambia’s Copperbelt for polluting the Mushishima river…In delivering judgment, Justice Musonda who castigated KCM for its irresponsible behavior said the development will deter would-be polluters from discharging poisonous substances without diminishing their potency to cause harm to the environment, human beings…In the judgment…Justice Musonda said the polluting of the water by the mining company was lack of corporate social responsibility, criminal and a tipping point for corporate recklessness. In 2007, James Nyasulu and others sued KCM, the Environmental Council of Zambia (ECZ), now Zambia Environmental management Agency (ZEMA) and Chingola Municipal Council for discharging effluent from its mining operations into the stream from which they get drinking water…[One of the affected residents] said after drinking the water, he experienced stomach pains, diarrhea and chest pains and that his sight was also affected…KCM head of public relations…said KCM is a responsible company which has adopted global best-practices and complies with all local regulatory requirements on environment, health and safety…

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1 January 2011

Nyasulu and others v Konkola Copper Mines Plc and Others

Author: High Court of Zambia

[Full text of the High Court decision ordering Konkola Copper Mines to pay each claimant 4 million kwatchas (today worth US $800) in general damages 1 million kwatches ($200) in punitive damages, a total of $1,000 per claimant and a total of US $2million in damages for the entire group.]

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