ZEMA says the export from Zambia of the Copper concentrates containing elevated levels of Arsenic which had been imported by Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) into Zambia has commenced.
Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) Principal Information and Communication Officer Irene Chipili in a statement in Lusaka stated that the commencement followed a decision by the government not to allow KCM to conduct any trial processing of the said copper concentrates due to environmental concerns.
“Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) is pleased to inform stakeholders and members of the public that the export from Zambia of the Copper concentrates containing elevated levels of Arsenic which had been imported by Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) into Zambia has commenced. The said concentrates are being exported to Taiwan,” Mrs. Chipili stated.
She stated that as of 27th November, 2015 a total of 1,529. 63 tonnes had been moved from KCM premises in Chingola of which 1,088.402 tonnes had already been exported to Taiwan through the Chirundu Border.
Mrs. Chipili stated that the remaining 441.223 was at Chirundu border awaiting customs clearance by Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
“The deadline for exporting all the concentrates in question is December 10, 2015. ZEMA will continue monitoring the export process to ensure adherence to the set conditions and schedule. The Agency takes this opportunity to remind all licensed facilities to adhere to the environmental law and other relevant laws. Further, all firms/persons intending to undertake activities that require Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should obtain authorization from ZEMA prior to project implementation,” stated Mrs. Chipili.
Earlier this year KCM imported 2000 tonnes of copper concentrate containing Arsenic from Chile.KCM said they did this because it was important for them to operate their smelter as close to design capacity as possible, in order to achieve maximum efficiency.In July this year Government denied Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) permission to process the 2,000 tonnes of imported copper concentrate as it contained high percent levels of Arsenic, a toxic substance.The Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Christabel Ngimbu, said the decision had been arrived at following inspection of the said concentrate which was found to be containing 4 per cent of Arsenic.Mrs Ngimbu said 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.
However,speaking in June this year Green Party president Peter Sinkamba urged Zambians not to demonise Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) over their motive to important copper concentrate containing arsenic because the country already has traces of the toxic chemical element. He said what was important was to put in place measures that will ensure that migration of that arsenic to the water systems is not high.He wondered why there was no talk when the nation imported concentrates from Congo which also contained levels of arsenic and Uranium which is even more hazardous.
Mr Sinkamba was sure that the various mining operations including KCM had put in place system to control impact of toxic chemical elements such as arsenic from causing harm to both the environment and human life.
He said instead of demonizing KCM over the motive to important concentrate, stakeholders should have given the mining firm credit because the move was a right step towards value addition which the nation desperately required.
“We need to start adding value and if we can import concentrate which is cheap from Chile, that is the best way to go,” he had said.