Zambian villagers sue mining giant


1,800 Zambian villagers are taking legal action in the High Court in London against UK based mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines after they claim their water sources and farming land were poisoned from the copper mining operations of both companies.

The 1,800 are members of four artisanal farming communities situated in the Copperbelt region of Zambia along the Mushishima and Kafue Rivers. They live close to the city of Chingola and next to the copper mines operated by Vedanta Resources plc, a London-listed mining company with revenues of $12.9bn, which bought a controlling share in Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia in 2004.

The communities, Shimulala, Kakosa, Hippo Pool and Hellen claim that polluted water is affecting their health and causing illnesses and permanent injuries. Without piped water from the mains supply their primary source of water for drinking, washing, bathing and irrigating farms are these waters.

The Claimants’ primary source of livelihood is through farming as well as some fishing from the rivers. The alleged pollution has devastated crops and affected fishing greatly impacting the earnings of the local people.

London based law firm Leigh Day have now issued proceedings on behalf of the villagers against Vedanta Resources Plc and Konkola Copper Mines at the High Court in London on Friday 31 July 2015. The lawyers allege that since the take-over in 2004 Vedanta Resources mining operations have been continually spilling sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals into the rivers, streams and farmland near to where the communities live and farm.

Lawyers who have been over to Zambia to see the effects of the effluent spills and discharges, claim that the pollution primarily stems from the copper processing part of the plant called the Tailings Leach Plant.