The Zambian government has asked Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc to return copper concentrates it recently imported from Chile because of its abnormal toxic levels, the Times of Zambia reported on Thursday.
Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Christabel Ngimbu said the government has ordered the mining firm not to start processing the copper concentrates because of the levels of arsenic.
She said the copper concentrates posed serious safety, health and environmental risks because t had four percent of arsenic and that the company should start making necessary arrangements to return the consignment to the country of origin.
KCM should also ensure the exercise was done in compliance with the existing legal framework and under the close supervision of relevant government agencies, she added.
“This level of arsenic is seven times more than that found in our copper concentrates in Zambia which averages around 0.5 percent. After accessing the necessary assessment and consultations with stakeholders and government agencies the ministry had arrived at the decision to stop KCM from processing the copper concentrates,” she was quoted as saying by the paper.
“I wish to inform the nation that permission to process the said concentrate is forthwith denied,” she added.
KCM, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, imported about 5, 000 tons of copper concentrates from Chile.
The company said it imported the copper concentrates from Chile because there was limited availability of suitable concentrates within the region which it needed to operate its newly constructed smelter as close to design capacity as possible to achieve maximum efficiency. Enditem