VEDANTA Resources has agreed to settle all claims brought against it by about 2,500 Zambian villagers who claimed the mining company’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) had polluted their land.
Vedanta owns about 85% of KCM. The villagers were represented by Leigh Day Solicitors, a company that has been successful in bringing a number of environmental and human rights abuse claims against mining companies.
The claim, issued in 2015, centered on pollution from the Nchanga Copper Mine, run by KCM, with 16,000 employees in Zambia. Vedanta, one of the largest mining companies in the world, bought a controlling share in Konkola, in 2004, said Leigh Day.
The claimants alleged that the pollution severely impacted the lives of people living in nearby villages Shimulala, Kakosa, Hippo Pool and Hellen where the primary source of income is farming and fishing.
“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,” said Leigh Day.
“The villagers were seeking damages, remediation, and cessation to the alleged continual pollution that they say is gravely impacting their lives,” it said.
A key moment in the case was when the UK’s Supreme Court in 2019 ruled the matter could be heard in English courts. The court’s judges said there was a risk the villagers would not receive justice in Zambian courts owing to a lack of resources and expertise.