Government has with immediate effect denied Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) permission to process about 2,000 tonnes of imported copper concentrate as it contains high percent levels of Arsenic, a toxic substance.
Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Christabel Ngimbu, says the decision has been arrived at following inspection of the said concentrate which was found to be containing 4 per cent of Arsenic.
Mrs Ngimbu says the levels of Arsenic, which was found in the said consignment, is seven times more than that found in copper concentrates in Zambia which averages around 0.5 per cent.
The minister charged that the elevated levels of Arsenic in the said imported copper concentrate would pose a serious environmental health and safety risks owing to the toxic nature of the substance.
In May this year, KCM imported into Zambia about 2,000 tonnes of the said copper concentrate in question for processing at its KCM Smelter at Nchanga in Chingola.
And Mrs Ngimbu has urged KCM to make necessary required arrangements to return the said consignment to the country of origin.
Mrs Ngimbu has further advised all relevant government agencies to closely monitor the situation.
She said government is committed to ensure that the people and the environment are protected from all environmental risks associated with mining.
Mrs Ngimbu has meanwhile called on all companies in the country to adhere to operational laws on the importation of goods that are toxic in nature.