Tag Archives: Zambia

Landmark jurisdiction case won by Zambian farmers at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today announced its verdict in the landmark case of the Zambian communities consistently polluted by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a subsidiary of British miner Vedanta Resources Plc, allowing them to have their case against the parent company and its subsidiary tried in the UK. The ruling sets a strong legal precedent which will allow people with claims against subsidiaries of British multinationals to sue the parent company in the UK.

The judgment by Chief Justice Lady Hale, and four further judges, re-affirms the rulings of the Court of Technology and Construction in 2016 and the Court of Appeal in 2017. Lady Hale refused Vedanta’s pleas in appealing the former judgments stating that, contrary to the claims of Vedanta’s lawyers:

  • the claimants do have a bona fide claim against Vedanta
  • the company does owe a duty of care to the claimants, especially in view of the existence of company wide policies on environment and health and safety.
  • that the size and complexity of the case, and the lack of funding for claimants at ‘at the poorer end of the poverty scale in one of the poorest countries of the world’ means that do not have substantive access to justice in Zambia.
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Can Zambian claimants get justice in the UK Supreme Court?

Report on the Supreme Court appeal hearing in the case Lungowe vs Vedanta, 15 – 16 January 2019.

This report follows our previous detailed write up of the Court of Appeal hearing, entitled ‘Police this gateway‘.

Court room 1 of the British Supreme Court was packed with journalists, solidarity activists, law students and other observers over the two day hearing, sitting in rows behind the legal benches. Each law firm was represented by two or three QCs as well as five or so advising lawyers sitting in the second row. In front of them five judges were seated behind a semi circle bench facing the rest of court. The ornate and grand stone building of the Supreme Court is located directly opposite the Houses of Parliament across Parliament Square. The court room itself is high ceilinged, with large stained glass windows, paintings of historic judges and extremely ornate carved stone and woodwork throughout the walls, ceilings and benches.

Outside the court entrance a vigil organised by Foil Vedanta continued throughout the two day hearing. Protesters held large green banner stating ‘Make Pollution Political: Justice for Zambia’ and a variety of placards with images of the pollution and some of the claimants in the affected villages.

Cherie Blair, wife of former British PM Tony Blair attended the first day of hearing, telling protesters outside she was there to support the case for UK jurisdiction.

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Supreme Court hears landmark jurisdiction case against Vedanta

Foil Vedanta vigil outside the Supreme Court

The latest hearing in the case of the Zambian communities consistently polluted by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a subsidiary of British miner Vedanta, was heard at the British Supreme Court on 15th and 16th January 2019. A vigil organised by solidarity organisation Foil Vedanta took place outside the court throughout the event in solidarity with the victims of ongoing pollution who have been fighting legal battles for justice in Zambia, and now the UK, for twelve years.

See press coverage in The Lusaka Times, The Guardian, New York Times, The Hindu, Mining MX, Zambia reports, CNBC, Morning Star, Left Foot Forward, Environews Nigeria and Business Day.

A short video from the court can be found here.

The court heard Vedanta’s second appeal against the High Court’s jurisdiction ruling in the case of Dominic Liswaniso Lungowe vs Vedanta Resources and Konkola Copper Mines. Vedanta attempted to overturn the High Court and Court of Appeal rulings which held that the case of 1,826 polluted farmers against the company and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines could be heard in the UK instead of Zambia. The case could represent a precedent in UK law, as, if a duty of care is found to be owed by Vedanta towards the claimants, this would be the first reported case in which a parent company would have been held to owe a duty of care to a person affected by the operations of a subsidiary who is not an employee of the subsidiary.12 This ruling could have major implications for British multinational corporations’ liability, a move which would be welcomed by British Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who expressed solidarity with the claimants, stating:

“When British corporations like Vedanta cause toxic pollution overseas, it’s absolutely right that they pay for the damage. I stand in solidarity with all those whose drinking water has been poisoned and livelihoods damaged by Vedanta’s irresponsible pursuit of profit, and all those campaigning for justice.”

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Make Pollution Political -1826 Zambian claimants Demand Justice in Supreme Court, London

On 15th and 16th the Zambian communities consistently polluted by the subsidiary of British mining company Vedanta Resources will have their case heard at the Supreme Court in London, and we need your help to rally in solidarity outside and inside the court room, to send a clear message that we will not stand for this British company’s complete disregard for human rights and environment.

  Join us

Please join us to protest outside the court from 9.30am – 10.15am on Tues 15th and Weds 16th January and demand justice for the claimants!

All are welcome to attend the case for any period of time on either day. Your solidarity will be strongly felt!

 
Hearings are 10.30 AM- 4 PM, Tuesday and Wednesday, 15-16 January 2018.
Supreme Court
Little George Street
Westminster
London SW1P 3BD

Vedanta will attempt to overturn the High Court and Court of Appeal rulings which held that the case of 1,826 polluted farmers against the company and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines could be heard in the UK instead of
Zambia. The case could represent a precedent in UK law, as, if a duty of
care is found to be owed by Vedanta towards the claimants, this would be the first reported case in which a parent company would have been held to owe a duty of care to a person affected by the operations of a subsidiary who is not an employee of the subsidiary. Therefore this is an important
day for all communities affected by the crimes of UK multinationals who
have hitherto been denied justice in British courts.

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Vedanta boss avoids last AGM as protests rage

1st October 2018. Loud protests took place at the company’s last London AGM today. Company founder and Chairman Anil Agarwal was not present, creating uproar among protesters and shareholders. Vedanta Resources officially de-listed from the London Stock Exchange at 8am this morning. Inside the meeting dissident shareholders asked questions about the police shooting of thirteen protesters against Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu in May. Another shareholder asked how much Vedanta spent on litigation or bribes, given the number of court cases they are tied up in at their various operations. Meanwhile a large contingent of Tamil people played traditional Parai drums and demanded ‘justice for Tuticorin’ outside the AGM.

See a video of the protest here…and here

See here for a full report on the AGM proceedings by London Mining Network: Vedanta AGM – a complete farce.

Coverage by Reuters here and on Moneycontrol here,and in The Hindu here,and Business Standard here, and on MSN here and Lusaka Times here.

Please download the report Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights here: Vedanta’s Billions ebook high res, or a lower resolution version here: Vedanta’s Billions ebook low res

Hours before the meeting a protest was held at Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) headquarters in Canary Wharf, demanding that British regulatory authorities do not let Vedanta flee the London Stock Exchange without being held to account. Representatives for FCA Directors were handed copies of a damning report Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights published by Foil Vedanta and a coalition of organisations days before. The report was described by Hywel Williams MP as ‘deeply concerning and disturbing’ and gives a comprehensive account of legal judgments against Vedanta across its global operations, blaming the City of London and FCA for failing to regulate or penalise the company, which is the latest in a long list of London miners linked to ‘corporate massacres’.

Reggae artist and activist Maiko Zulu in Lusaka

On Thursday 27th September popular Zambian reggae artist and public figure – Maiko Zulu – was arrested outside the British High Commission in Lusaka, Zambia, holding a banner stating ‘Hold Anil Agarwal to account for Zambian crimes before de-listing’. Zulu gave this statement to the media, referring to the Vedanta subsidiary KCM’s pollution of the River Kafue, for which the landmark case of 1,826 farmers against Vedanta will be heard in London Supreme Court in January, as well as the Tuticorin ‘massacre’:

Vedanta is being de-listed from the London Stock Exchange following serious crimes against indigenous people of India and the pollution of our own Kafue River which is a source of livelihood for thousands of peasants. The inequality that multinationals are creating can not be left unchecked and we will continue standing up and facing arrests for the good of our people. Our fellow protesters were shot at by police in India.”

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The safety record at KCM is upside-down

This article by Buntungwa Ward Councillor, Soko Mumba, details attempts by Vedanta’s Zambian subsidiary KCM to cover up circumstances surrounding the death of a worker earlier this year. It is not clear if Mr Mwape’s tragic death is counted as one of the nine fatalities recorded in Vedanta’s 2018 Annual Report, which make a mockery of their ‘zero harm’ policy. Adding insult to injury, Vedanta CEO Kuldip Kaura’s statement in the report:

“Our training programmes have focused on getting our employees make better risk decisions so that they can start to identify those behaviours that result in injuries and fatalities.”

..appears to put the blame for fatal accidents on the employees themselves, rather than taking responsibility for the poor health and safety record which is well documented in Foil Vedanta’s recent report, Vedanta’s Billions.

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Every mining undertaking has its risks but such risks can be avoided if a company operates within the confines of the Mining and Safety Regulations, which are there to promote both human life and mining business. You can not talk of a successful business without safety and you can’t of course talk about successful safety without human life.

It takes serious investment to implement the mining and Safety Regulations if a mining company is to have Zero fatalities as Vedanta claims. If there is no serious investment in both human and business capital, the chances of having fatalities are very high.

This is the case at Vedanta’s Zambian subsidiary KCM, which has been operating without capital injection into the business and human capital. This has resulted in the company cutting down costs to maximise profits by bypassing certain safety procedures in the quest to meet the growing demand for copper.

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‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ – report released

Foil Vedanta and a coalition of organisations have released a damning report ‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights days before Vedanta Resources’ AGM and de-listing, described by Hywel Williams MP as ‘deeply concerning and disturbing’. The report gives a comprehensive account of legal judgments against Vedanta across its global operations, and blames the City of London and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failing to regulate or penalise the company, which is the latest in a long list of London miners linked to ‘corporate massacres’. A protest will be held at the FCA headquarters in Canary Wharf at 11am on 1st October, handing over a copy of the report and demanding that British regulatory authorities do not let Vedanta flee the London Stock Exchange without being held to account.

The full report can be downloaded HERE: Vedanta’s Billions ebook high res

Or low resolution version for slow download speeds: Vedanta’s Billions ebook low res

The report ‘Vedanta’s Billions’, released today, is a summary of legal judgments against Vedanta across its operations, revealing its abusive modus operandi, with special focus on illegal mining in Goa, pollution and tax evasion in Zambia, as well as illegal expansion and pollution in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, industrial disaster at Korba in Chhattisgarh, land settlement and pollution issues in Punjab, displacement and harassment of activists in Lanjigarh, Odisha, and a mineral allocation scam in Rajasthan.

The report is being released days ahead of the company’s final London AGM and General Meeting, at which it plans to formally de-list from the London Stock Exchange. The move follows the police shooting which killed thirteen people, including women and children, on 22nd May this year, their 100th day of protest against pollution by Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, India. The killing is being dubbed a ‘corporate massacre’ and led to the closure of the Sterlite copper plant. Vedanta’s de-listing plans were announced shortly afterwards amidst global protests against the company.

The report notes that Vedanta is now the latest in a string of London listed mining companies linked to the murder or ‘massacre’ of protesters, including Lonmin, Glencore, Kazakhmys, ENRC, Essar, GCM Resources, Anglo Gold Ashanti, African Barrick Gold and Monterrico Metals. As such, the report names the role of the City of London and the Financial Conduct Authority in ‘minimising the risks associated with Vedanta’s legal violations and human rights and environmental abuses’ and failing to investigate or penalise any London listed mining company on these grounds.

A protest will be held outside the FCA headquarters on the morning of the AGM on 1st October, demanding that the body finally investigates the company and holds them to account for the various crimes detailed in the report. The report will be handed to a member of FCA staff at the event.

The report concludes that;

Some companies have de-listed due to a legitimate need to pursue long term company strategy, which may not be supported by shareholders’ emphasis on short term profitability. However in this case, Vedanta’s track record of human rights, environmental and financial violations, together with its already complicated financial structure, strongly suggests that de-listing is part of a policy to further limit public scrutiny of its operations.”

The report also includes a detailed diagram of Vedanta’s corporate structure, as it has evolved over the years, revealing the disproportionate number of shell companies registered in various tax havens, reflecting their opaqueness, contrary to their claim of being transparent.

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Call out – Last London AGM protest, 1st October!

On 1st October Vedanta will hold their last AGM in London before de-listing from the London Stock Exchange, under pressure from MPs and activists following the Thoothukudi massacre in Tamil Nadu May.

At this final AGM, Foil Vedanta will be celebrating the notable victory of Vedanta’s de-listing (which seriously curtails their corporate ambitions), and the success of grassroots activism which has shut down Vedanta’s operations in Goa, Tuticorin and Niyamgiri, with a carnival theme.

Please join us to kick Vedanta out of London once and for all!

Bring drums, whistles and colourful flags and clothes!

Monday 1st October, 2-5 pm Lincoln Centre, Lincoln Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

Decry the complicity of the City of London in Vedanta’s corporate massacre of 13 environmental protesters at Thoothukudi in May, the latest in a long history of corporate murders and massacres of activists by London mining companies.

Vedanta’s exit from London is in fact a ‘divorce of convenience’ for the City, who have totally failed to regulate Vedanta, or any other criminal mining company to this day.

We will also be releasing our report ‘Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights’ – which gives a comprehensive account of the company’s crimes at all of its operations, and the City of London’s complicity, on Thursday 27th Septmber, before the AGM.

On 1st October the company will also sign contracts for 41 new oil and gas blocks in India, where their subsidiary Cairn India (part of Vedanta Ltd) have already been using unconventional extraction methods (fracking) in Rajasthan.

If you are keen to ask questions inside the AGM as a dissident shareholder please get in touch and we will arrange a proxy share for you.
#KickVedanta #BanSterlite #BringAnilAgarwal2Justice

Thoothukudi residents resist Sterlite expansion

Thoothukudi Sterlite protest

Children’s placards read: ‘Sterlite: mercy killers’

15th February.  On Monday up to 500 people declared a hunger strike and indefinite protest against the planned expansion of Vedanta subsidiary Sterlite’s copper smelter in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin), Tamil Nadu. Two days into the protest police rounded up and arrested 270 people including many women and children, eventually releasing all except eight so-called ringleaders including social worker and Anti Sterlite Struggle Federation Coordinator Professor Fatima Babu, who are still being held by police. Large groups of school children and their mothers made up the majority of the protest. Their placards and statements to the media demand an end to years of toxic pollution from the plant, which is causing respiratory diseases and fainting, especially affecting the children, with long term consequences to their health. Water is also being polluted, and huge amounts used by the plant, in an already water-stressed area.
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London ruling awards Zambia $139 million from KCM

Lionel Persey QC passed the judgment against KCM

Lionel Persey QC passed the judgment against KCM

18th Jan 2018 In the third major London case against Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) since 2014, the English High Court on January 2nd ordered KCM to pay $139 million plus costs to Zambian government entity ZCCM Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) for sums owed as part of a copper and cobalt price participation agreement dating back to 2004, when Vedanta took over the Zambian copper mine. ZCCM-IH is the 20.6% shareholder of KCM. In February 2013 various claims of non-payment against KCM were the subject of a Settlement Agreement in which KCM agreed to pay a total of $119 million to ZCCM-IH in two instalments. However they subsequently reneged on the agreement after paying only $19 million, forcing ZCCM-IH to take them to London courts. In the High Court’s January summary judgment a further $36 million was awarded for KCM’s further breaching of the Settlement Agreement by making payments to its parent company Vedanta Resources while the amounts due to ZCCM-IH were still outstanding. (Download the full judgment here)

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