Zambia orders Vedanta unit to get rid of Chilean copper

Zambia orders Vedanta unit to get rid of Chilean copper

Vedanta Resources’ Konkola Copper mine, Zambia.

The government of Zambia has ordered Vedanta Resources' (LON:VED) Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to get rid of all copper concentrate it has imported from Chile, as it said the material contains had high levels of arsenic, a toxic substance.

The country’s environmental management authority had asked the company in June to delay the processing of those concentrates, as it found arsenic levels to be around 4%, higher than the 1% usually found in locally mined copper.

According to Reuters, the authority asked KCM to submit a full plan for sending the material back to Chile or to other smelting facilities outside Zambia by Friday.

Konkola acquired about 5,000 tonnes of copper concentrates from Chilean state-owned Codelco, the world’s top producer, with the intention of smelting the semi-processed material at the Nchanga smelter, which has an annual production capacity of 311,000 tonnes.

KCM resorted to imports of copper concentrates because its Nchanga smelter was operating at only about half its capacity.

Vedanta’s unit had been blending its concentrates with those from other local mines and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but these have not been enough to reach the Nchanga smelter's capacity.

KCM accounts for more than 30% of the country's total copper output and Zambia is Africa’s second copper producer.

Neither Codelco nor KCM were immediately available to comment on the decision at the time of publishing this story.