The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) has ordered UK-based Vedanta Resources-owned Konkola Copper Mines to cease further plans to process copper concentrates it imports from Chile over fears of arsenic.
According to the Zambia’s environmental management authority, the copper concentrates contained high levels of the toxic substance.
The Zambia Deputy Minister of Mines office stated that the company was asked to postpone copper concentrate processing until safety measures are put in place to help prevent pollution.
KCM is required to submit a full programme to ZEMA for sending the contaminated material back to Chile or any other disposal and smelting facilities located outside Zambia, Reuters reported.
To make sure that its Nchanga smelter operates at full-capacity, the company said it was mandatory for it to import its first semi-processed copper from Chile.
The Nchanga smelter is said to have a production capacity of 311,000t a year and converts copper concentrates into anodes and a copper-cobalt alloys.
Copper mining and smelting company Konkola Copper Mines currently produces two million tonnes of copper ore a year.
The Konkola Deep Mining project of the company is expected to expand its capacity to six million tonnes of ore per annum.
The company’s principal markets include the Middle East and East Asia.
Image: Arsenic is a toxic chemical element sometimes found in copper mining. Photo: courtesy of Tomihahndorf.