British-owned Vedanta mine settles Zambian villagers’ pollution claim

The villagers allege the polluted water has caused severe health problems

LONDON, Jan 20 (NNN-AGENCIES) —More than 2,500 Zambian villagers are to receive an undisclosed settlement from UK-based mining giant Vedanta Resources over their pollution claims.

The claimants live by the huge Nchanga Copper mine, owned by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a Vedanta subsidiary.

In 2015, they alleged that toxic discharge from Nchanga had poisoned water sources and destroyed farmland.

In a landmark ruling four years later, the UK Supreme Court said the case could be fought in the UK courts.

In its judgement, the Supreme Court had said the firm owed villagers a duty of care and there was a risk they would not be able to achieve justice in the Zambian courts.

A joint statement from UK-based law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the claimants, and Vedanta said the mining companies did not admit liability but had settled all claims “for the benefit of the local community”.

“It was claimed that toxic effluent discharge from the mine damaged local land and waterways used for irrigation and the use of polluted water for drinking, washing and bathing caused residents severe health problems,” it said.

The villagers had sought damages and an end to the “alleged continual pollution that they say is gravely impacting their lives”, the statement added.

Leaked documents in 2015 appeared to show that KCM had been spilling sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals into the water sources.

The communities of Hippo Pool, Kakosa, Shimulala and Hellen said that the Mushishima stream and the Kafue had become rivers of acid. — NNN-AGENCIES