GOVERNMENT has ordered Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) not to process the 2,000 tonnes of copper concentrates it recently imported from Chile because of abnormal toxic levels.
KCM recently imported 5,000 tonnes of copper concentrates from Chile which raised concern on the levels of toxic substances.
Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Christabel Ngimbu said at a press conference in Lusaka yesterday the copper concentrates posed serious safety, health and environmental risks because it had four percent of arsenic.
Arsenic is a dangerous chemical substance and its inhalation can increase the risk of lung cancer in human beings and damage the environment where it is being processed.
“This level of arsenic is seven times more than that found in our copper concentrates in Zambia which averages around 0.5 percent,” Ms Ngimbu said.
After accessing the necessary assessment and consultations with stakeholders and government agencies the Ministry had arrived at the decision to stop KCM from processing the copper concentrates.
“I wish to inform the nation that permission to process the said concentrate is forthwith denied,” she said.
She said KCM would be required to make necessary arrangements to return the consignment to the country of origin.
KCM should also ensure the exercise was done in compliance with the existing legal framework and urged Government agencies to closely monitor the situation.
She said the Government would always ensure that members of the public as well as the environment were protected from all environmental risks associated with mining.
She said all companies should ensure they adhered to all their operations including the importation of any goods that were toxic in nature.