Mining is one of Africa’s primary economic activity. This is attributable to the fact that the continent is rich in a variety of mining reserves. Copper, gold, oil, diamond, and diatomite are but some minerals in the continent. However, mining activities in some parts of the continent have proven harmful. This article focuses on the Nchanga mine, owned by vedanta mine and located in Zambia, and how it has impacted neighboring residents.
Pollution from Nchanga Mine
Nchanga Mine, which is owned by Konkola Copper mine, a branch of UK-based mining giant Vedanta, has caused tremendous impacts on residents neighboring it. Occasionally, Claimants from the region have complained of severe health conditions because of the dust coming from the mines. In 2015, residents from neighboring villages alleged that toxic discharge from Nchanga had polluted water sources and destroyed farmland.
People of Shimulala, Hippo pool, Kakosa, and Hellen stated that Mushishima and Kafue rivers had become acidic. They claimed copper mining operations in the area had contributed to the high acidity levels of the rivers. The water from the rivers is no longer suitable for consumption as they pose great harm. The hippo pool, which used to fill up with hippos, no longer has a single hippo.
The soil in the copper belt, which used to be highly fertile and productive, now produces virtually nothing. Those who used to depend on farming to facilitate their daily needs now are left hopeless. The Zambian community believes that the mine has brought so much harm to its environment than good.
Vedanta Mine Settles Pollution Claims
For quite some time, villagers neighboring the Nchanga mine in Zambia have attempted to sue the mining company but failed. However, after four years of court proceedings, a UK based Supreme Court finally listened to them. The judge stated that only the UK courts could settle the case. In the court’s recent judgment, Vedanta owed the Zambian locals a duty of care.
A jointed statement from a UK based law firm representing the complainants and Vedanta stated that the mining company agreed to settle all claims for the benefit of the villagers but did not admit to liability.
“It was stated that toxic effluent emission from the mine spoiled local land and waterways utilized for irrigation, and the usage of contaminated water for drinking, washing hands, and bathing caused residents to have a severe health problem. The villagers alleged continual pollution that they say is impacting their lives,” the statement read.
In 2015, BBC got hold of documents that affirmed that the mine had been spilling wastes like copper sulphate and other toxic chemicals to the neighboring water sources. And it’s because of those chemicals that the water became poisonous and acidic. When the copper sulphate sludge accumulates underwater for a long, it makes the water develop a foul smell. Hence the chemicals not only interfere with the suitability of water but also it’s color.
Cases of villagers suffering from medical health conditions like stomach pains and paralysis have increased because of the unhealthy water. And they blame it on the neighboring copper belt. Over 2500 Zambian villagers hope to receive compensation in the form of settlement from Vedanta very soon.