Vedanta denies Zambian allegations of sabotage

JOHANNESBURG – Indian-owned Vedanta Resources on Thursday denied reports currently making the rounds in the Zambian media about its alleged involvement in problems being experienced at Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) operations.

This after the Zambian government last week alleged that unknown people had gained access to the KCM mine and removed keys to the licence software which will be used in the anticipated start-up of the smelter, and also tried to sabotage a smelter. 

An investigation is underway and government has stepped up security, especially at strategic installations. 

The government also claimed it had unearthed a scam in which Vedanta was stripping KCM of its assets and had also damaged the operating system of the concentrator. 

Vedanta has been at loggerheads with the Zambian government over the closure of the KCM operations. 

In a statement, Vedanta denied these allegations, saying that it has not had access to any KCM operational site or office, nor has it been able to contact KCM staff, for over three weeks – since the appointment of the provisional liquidator for KCM.

"Vedanta has, from the outset of what it feels is an unfair and unjust process, been deeply concerned about the very real risks posed by the ex parte provisional liquidator appointment and winding-up process to KCM, its operations, employees and local communities," it said. 

"With those concerns in mind, Vedanta wrote to the provisional liquidator on 31 May 2019, flagging a number of areas of concern. These included the need to maintain security to ensure asset theft did not occur, and the risk to operational infrastructure should assets stand idle or underground water pumping cease."

The company is challenging the government’s decision, through ZambiaConsolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) of appointing a provisional liquidator to wind up the business due to an alleged breach of terms of its licence, alleged failure to exploit the Nchanga underground mine, and allegedly not paying creditors on time.   

Vedanta said that given the allegations, it has been trying to contact the provisional liquidator to discuss these concerns, as well as to request an update on the current status of KCMs operations as a whole. ‘

It said it would urge the provisional liquidator and the government of Zambia to engage with the company, in the best interests of all stakeholders involved.

"Vedanta wants to make it clear that it would never – under any circumstances – involve itself in nor countenance the “sabotage” of any mining or processing operation," it said.

"Vedanta is absolutely committed to resolving the current situation using all available means. It urges the Government of Zambia, ZCCM-IH and the provisional liquidator to take the same approach. KCM was an isolated one that was largely triggered by the investor’s failure to comply with the conditions set out in the license."

– African News Agency (ANA)

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