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Konkola-Copper-MineDe Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) heeft voor de derde keer de Kafue rivier vervuild. De Environmental Council of Zambia wil hiervoor een aantal strafmaatregelen nemen, maar is dit genoeg? Enkele ambtenaren vinden van niet. Zij wijzen erop dat de waarnemend voorzitter van de ECZ, Frederick Bantubonse, die tevens algemeen manager is van de Chamber of Mines, in zijn eerste rol vraagt om strengere milieuregels, maar in zijn tweede rol om juist minder regels!

In November 2006, KCM polluted the Kafue River with acidic effluent from Nchanga tailings leach plant (photo), killing the fish and resulting in a five-day shutdown of domestic water supply to Chingola residents. Te pollution was caused by a burst tailings pipeline. In October 2010, KCM polluted the river again, resulting in another shutdown of water supply. Te spill was caused by a leak in one of the old pregnant solution tanks at Nchanga.KCM was fined 21.97 million kwacha – an amount which was criticised by Southern Africa Resource Watch as being too lenient. Earth Organisation Zambia asked the British Standard Institute (BSI) to withdraw its certificate for the international standard for environmental management systems (ISO 14001), which it had awarded to KCM in October 2010.KCM said it had undertaken necessary measures to prevent future incidents, including replacing aging tanks and a tailings pipeline at Nchanga. In fact, said KCM chief executive officer Kishore Kumar, the mining giant has spent over 40 million US dollars on the rehabilitation of old infrastructure in an effort to prevent pollution (Daily Mail 20).Nevertheless, Nchanga has now leaked again, polluting the Kafue River with heavy metals and temporarily disrupted water supply. In a statement, KCM explained that the spill was caused by a power outage, which led to the failure of the pumps at its Muntimpa tailings disposal site (Daily Mail 15). Immediately after the power outage, the concentrator and the tailings leach plant were stopped and the matter was reported to relevant authorities – and althea samples taken proved to be within the allowable parameters, reads the statement.KCM is owned by the London-listed Vedanta Resources of India (79.4%) and ZCCM-IH (20.6%). It received widespread praise by the end of 2010 for its announcement to list on the London Stock Exchange followed by the Lusaka Stock Exchange – although the mining giant later postponed its listing to 2011. Now, the praise has died down. Chingola MP Joseph Katema (PF) and Nchanga MP Wylbur Simuusa (PF) requested that the government intervene in KCM’s quest to reap abnormal profits at the expense of local residents and the environment (Post 15).We will, said Ministry of tourism, Environment and Natural Resources permanent secretary Lillian Kapulu: The government, through the ECZ, “will be monitoring KCM and other mines to ensure they don’t pollute the environment” (Daily Mail 20). And, added ECZ executive director Paul Banda, we “are going to take action” against the company. We doubt it, said “some government officials” (Post 15), who pointed out that the vice-chair-man of ECZ – which has no chairman currently – is Frederick Bantubonse, who is also the general manager of the Chamber of Mines of Zambia. In the former capacity he is pushing for stricter laws on environmental pollution. In the latter he is pushing for leniency.

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