12th May 2014. A video released by activists from Foil Vedanta today, shows Vedanta boss, and 69% owner, Anil Agarwal, telling a large audience how he bought Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia for just $25 million, rather than the $400 million asking price, and receiving loud cheers when he states that the company brings in $500 million in profit each year. Foil Vedanta had previously released figures from Vedanta’s annual reports showing that the company made $362 million in 2013, but Vedanta CEO Tom Albanese had disputed this during his visits to Zambia in February, repeating the previous claim that KCM was making a very low profit or a loss due to high operational costs and taxes.
In the video, Agarwal, speaking to the Jain International Trade Organisation (JITO) in Bangalore, India, March 22 – 23 this year, states about KCM:
“Its been 9 years [since we’ve owned the company], and since then every year it is giving us a minimum of 500 million dollar, plus 1 billion dollar, every year it has been continuously giving back.”
Anil Agarwal also explains in detail how he came to buy ‘the largest copper mine in Africa’ at Konkola, describing how he took a chance by offering only $25 million rather than the $400 million asking price. He describes his surprise at receiving a VIP welcome in the Zambian parliament, and ridicules the then Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa for claiming that Vedanta would improve the lives of Zambians, saying:
“He told the entire parliament that what great people we are, and our empire, and that they will make our lives gorgeous. And they will make schools, make hospitals and blah blah..”
A few weeks ago a protest at the Zambian High Commission in London called for Vedanta and the Zambian government to release KCM’s annual reports, containing the official figures on profits and tax payment, which are currently kept secret.
They also suggested that Vedanta should be forced to pay the fine of $2 million served by Zambian courts in 2011 as compensation to 2000 claimants poisoned by major pollution of the river Kafue in 2006, and stop ongoing spills affecting Chingola residents.
In addition they joined the calls of KCM employees and former employees in Zambia, who are demanding that retrenched workers are properly compensated for taking redundancy, and existing contract labourers are unionised.
On Thursday 8th May 400 un-unionised KCM workers protested against their unfair pay, and lack of contracts at the Labour offices in Kitwe, Zambia. Press reports claim that KCM’s managers ran away from the media when asked for comment.
Meanwhile Vedanta’s Lisheen mine in Ireland, which they bought from Anglo American in 2011, is facing trouble, as a High Court judgement has ruled that three senior managers should be paid 6 months sick pay after leaving the company due to ‘bullying, harassment and intimidation since Vedanta took control’. Local councillors, as well as the aggrieved managers, are also questioning Vedanta’s decision not to wind the mine down by 2015, as they had originally planned.