Vedanta’s pollution of water in Zambia

This report from Southern Africa Resource Watch, one of the organisations on the ground in Zambia, was written for Foil Vedanta for the 2012 Vedanta AGM demonstration. It reveals the ongoing pollution of groundwater for hundreds of people in the Shimulala community near Vedanta’s Konkola Copper Mines.


One of our partners on the ground and very active in Chingola and Chililabombwe towns of the Copper belt  province where Vedanta operates as Konkola Copper Mines, Catholic Diocese of Ndola   coordinated an activity which we were involved and this activity brought together the  following organisations both from the Government and Non  Governmental Organisations such ;

  • The Development Education Community Project ( NGO),
  • Catholic Diocese of Ndola , Chingola Deanary ( Faith based Movement)
  • The district Commissioner ( Government)
  • Konkola Copper Mines ( Vedanta operated Mine)
  • Shimulala Community members

The event was held on the   1st December 2011, it was as a result of complaints from the community about pollution the stream and the environment generally by KCM.

The Shimulala community is located near the Kafue River and due to its proximity to the mine operations; the community has had a number of problems to do with their habitation.

The Kafue river in Chingola  on many occasions  has  been heavily polluted by Konkola copper mines (KCM),  and the river  being the  main source for domestic and farming  water to the community, the situation has been worsened and poverty is looming , the  river today  has  basically no form of living life in the waters  river  and due to the same pollution the community is  not able to draw water for any use from this  source.

The population of the community is approximately one hundred and twenty five (125) households living in the area and most of them survive on farming to sustain themselves. Transport to the area is quite hard to reach as many have to walk long distances to get to where they want to go. The area gets its name from the Shimulala stream which connects to the Kafue River.

The meeting was called to ensure that the alternative water source for the people was in line with both national and international health standards , this was further aimed at assessing the performance of the water boreholes  constructed by KCM, the initiative  instead of solving the water pollution they created more health related problems . The boreholes are rarely used by the community because they contain Copper, Iron, Acid and other minerals from underground as you may see in the picture below.

(This is a picture of running water being pumped from one of the pumps in the Shimulala community. With the rainy season around most of the community draw rain water as a clean source of drinking, cooking, bathing and washing water)

During the meeting a representative from KCM, was not authorised to speak by his Company and as such, a lot of issues were left Unattended to, and the following were the resolutions of the meeting;


  1. To have  a round table discussion with the Mine management as well as other stakeholders to address the poor water conditions in Shimulala
  2. To ensure that the Mine puts up piped water in the community for both agriculture and Domestic, as they had the right to   access to clean and safe water.
  3. If the water situation cannot be improved, the meeting generally agreed that there is need to relocate the community to a more habitable location.
  4. With the discovering of other minerals after building the boreholes, the health conditions of the community are supposed to be examined, so that adequate medical attention is given.
  5. The Mine (KCM), to improve on its behaviour towards the welfare of the local community by being responsive and addressing community needs on time.







Leave a Reply