15th October 2015. Green MP Caroline Lucas, Labour peer Lord Des Browne (of Laydton) and MSP Jackie Baillie have added their names to a letter of support for Foil Vedanta’s current delegation to Zambia which will be monitoring the situation with communities around Vedanta’s mines and processing plants.
Open Letter of support for Foil Vedanta delegation in Zambia.
We are public figures concerned with the track record of British registered FTSE 250 mining company Vedanta Resources and the environmental and social violations the company has been convicted of in India, Zambia and elsewhere.
In 2006 Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) contaminated Zambia’s major river – the Kafue – with raw effluent over a 48 hour period, raising chemical concentrations of copper, manganese and cobalt by hundreds of times their recommended limits. An estimated 40,000 people drank contaminated water, and many are still affected today by liver and kidney problems as well as miscarriages and stomach pains. In 2011 a landmark judgement by a Zambian High Court judge fined KCM $2 million on behalf of 2000 Chingola residents who were some of the worst affected. Vedanta challenged the ruling and the case was not re-heard until activists from Foil Vedanta raised the issue internationally in 2013 following an investigatory visit to the area. Finally, in April 2015, the Supreme Court of Zambia upheld the guilty verdict against Vedanta but reduced the compensation to nothing, leaving the residents without full justice. In August 2015 the case was taken up by UK law firms who reported shocking evidence of the ongoing contamination of the Mushishima stream and Kafue River by the KCM mine1 2, leaving communities without clean water and suffering ongoing health problems.
In addition, Foil Vedanta’s 2013 report Copper Colonialism: Vedanta KCM and the copper loot of Zambia revealed that contrary to their company accounts which show an annual loss, KCM had been making a large profit. In April 2014 Foil Vedanta activists discovered video footage of company Chairman and 69% owner Anil Agarwal bragging to the Jain International Trade Organisation in Bangalore that he was making between $500 million and $1 billion a year from KCM. Further investigations by UK courts revealed how profits were being manipulated and hidden by transfer pricing, denying the Zambian exchequer millions in owed tax revenue.
Due to the commodities slump Vedanta are now suspending workers and considering whether to remain in Zambia. We believe it is important that Zambians get justice from Vedanta in terms of owed taxation, a remediated environment, and workers remuneration before they terminate their relationship.
We wish to register our concern with the activities of Vedanta Resources in the Zambian Copperbelt, and note our support for the delegation from London research-based international solidarity group Foil Vedanta who will be investigating and monitoring the situation in Zambia in the coming weeks.
The Rt Hon Lord Desmond Browne of Ladyton Member of the House of Lords.
Jackie Baillie MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament
Caroline Lucas MP, Member of the House of Commons
Dr Vinita Damodaran
Director of Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex