British Mining Company to Compensate Zambian Miners

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Over 2500 Zambians can’t wait to get compensation from UK based mining company. The British mining company has caused tremendous pollution in the region. Waterways, soil, and air are all contaminated.

Last month, a joint statement from Vedanta Resources Ltd and Leigh Day solicitors, which represents the villagers, confirmed the compensation. Something which the villagers were pleased with. Were it not for Leigh Day, an English law firm, thousands of locals would continue to suffer.

“Without the admission of liability, Vedanta Resources Limited and Konkola Copper Mines Plc confirmed that they have agreed to benefit the local communities, the settlement of all claims Zambian complainants brought against them.”

The Pollution

Controversies surrounding mine pollutions in Zambia began in 2015. Nchanga Copper Mine, which employs up to 16000 miners in Zambia, was the main problem. Being the countries biggest private employer, it sold the majority of its shares to Vedanta, giving it the power to control the mine.

According to reports, the mine area is covered in copper waste remains, producing a foul smell. Often when it pours, the contaminants flow directly into water sources like rivers in the region. As such, residents in neighboring villages of Shimulala, Kakosa, Hellen, and Hippo Pool are all severely contaminated.

Aquatic organisms like fish, which are primary sources of income, are no more. The inhabitants can no longer use the river water directly for consumption. For its polluted and unhealthy for intake. Meanwhile, the Hippo Pool, which used to have many pools, now has a few numbers. The soils in the region are also no longer productive as they used to be.

Heavy metals from the minerals and chemicals have deprived the nutrients and fertility of the soil. Farmers who relied on crops to facilitate food and basic needs now are left wondering what to feed on and sell. Because of the toxic effluent discharge, residents have caught severe health problems. And affording proper medication has become a challenge. Therefore seeking damage remediation from the responsible parties is all they thought wise.

Court Rulings

In April 2019, High court judges ruled in favor of the plaintiff. They also supported the idea that the case could only be brought before English courts. For it’s only then that they would receive compensation. Also, they could not rely on the Zambian courts due to a lack of funding and legal expertise. Vedanta being the parent company of Konkola, without doubt, owed the villagers duty for care.

There was a time when Vedanta released materials asserting its responsibility for establishing environmental control measures and setting sustainability standards. However, their information conflicted with the villagers who held them responsible for destroying their ecosystem.

The Vedanta case is one of the leading cases that involve international companies benefiting from locals’ expense. It happens that such companies are gradually starting to make up for the damages they are causing. The was also the case of Shell onshore oil drilling in Nigeria, which has impacted neighboring communities’ lives. Though they have forwarded their complaints, they are yet to get compensation.

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