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Zambia - Vedanta - Konkola Copper Mines

Leigh Day represents 1,826 Zambian villagers who are taking action against UK based Vedanta Resources plc (Vedanta) and its Zambian subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) as a result of damage to their land and water from copper mining effluent.
Zambian Leigh Day client

They are members of four artisanal farming communities next to the Nchanga Copper Mine operated by Vedanta’s subsidiary KCM. Vedanta bought a controlling share in KCM in 2004. Vedanta is one of the largest mining companies in the world with an asset base of almost US$40 billion spread across the world. KCM, its Zambian subsidiary, is the largest copper mining company in Africa and Zambia’s largest private sector employer with around 16,000 employees. It operates a number of mines in Zambia including the Nchanga Copper Mine, which is the world’s second largest open cast copper mine

The communities, Shimulala, Kakosa, Hippo Pool and Hellen claim that polluted water is affecting their health and causing illnesses and permanent injuries. The polluted water is their primary source for drinking, washing, bathing and irrigating farms.

The claimants’ primary source of livelihood is through farming as well as some fishing from the rivers. The alleged pollution has devastated crops and affected fishing, greatly impacting the earnings of the local people.

High Court Proceedings Against Vedanta and KCM

Leigh Day issued proceedings on behalf of the villagers against Vedanta and KCM at the High Court in London in July 2015. In September 2015 both Vedanta and KCM challenged the jurisdiction of the English courts to hear the claims. In May 2016, Mr Justice Coulson gave judgment granting the jurisdiction of these courts over the claims - the defendants subsequently sought and obtained permission to appeal. Their appeals were heard by the Court of Appeal in July 2017, which returned a unanimous decision in November 2017 upholding Coulson J’s judgment. The Defendants have since sought and obtained permission to appeal from the Supreme Court the hearing of which will take place on 15-16 January 2019.

Update: Victory in the Supreme Court - Lungowe & Others v Vedanta Resources Plc & Konkola Copper Mines [2019]

Villagers celebrating the new judgment in April 2019
Zambian villagers celebrate the Supreme Court Judgment in April 2019

On Wednesday 10 April 2019, some four years since the claimants first instructed Leigh Day to bring these claims in the English courts, the Supreme Court has handed down the final judgment in Lungowe & Others v Vedanta Resources Plc & Konkola Copper Mines [2019] UKSC 20.

Now that jurisdiction has been determined the substantive claims by the Zambian villagers will be heard in the High Court. 

You can download the judgement or our legal briefing.

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