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Acid Plant Database  December 11, 2019


Owner Konkola Copper Mines PLC (KCM)





KCM is a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Plc, a London listed FTSE 100 metals and mining group.

1970 Prior - Anglo American Corporation and Roan Selection Trust owned the mines. After negotiations between the Zambian Government and the two mining groups, the mines were reorganised into Nchanga Consolidated Copper Mines Limited (NCCM) and Roan Consolidated Mines Limited (RCM). Through Mining and Industrial Development Corporation Limited (MINDECO), the Government acquired a 51 per cent interest and Zambia Copper Investments (ZCI) acquired the remaining 49 per cent in NCCM.
1974 - Mindeco's 51 per cent shareholding in NCCM was transferred to ZIMCO.  The Government acquired 51 % shares in RCM. The Roan Selection Trust, ZCI and the general public held the rest.
1981 - RCM and NCCM were merged to form a conglomerate called Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM).
1991 - Zambia became a multi-party state when the Movement of Multi-party Democracy (MMD) was elected. The government embarked on an exercise to privatise parastatal companies, including the mining industry.
2000 - The privatising programme was completed when ZCCM assets were bought by Mopani Copper Mines plc and Konkola Copper Mines plc. Anglo American plc acquired a 51% shares in KCM.
2002 - Anglo America, IFC and CDC withdrew as shareholders of KCM, leaving a restructured company whose main shareholders were ZCCM IH and ZCI.
2004 - Vedanta Resources became the major shareholders in KCM with a 51 per cent share in the Company.

Venanta Resources: 51%
Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM): 20.6%
Zambia Copper Investments Limited: 28.4%

Website www.kcm.co.zm

Nchanga Smelter

Coordinates* 12° 31' 52" S, 27° 51' 12" E 12° 31' 46" S, 27° 51' 1" E
Type of Plant Metallurgical Sulphur Burning
Gas Source

Flash Smelter

Elemental Sulphur
Plant Capacity 1850 MTPD 500 MTPD
SA/DA 2/2 DA 3/1 DA
Emissions 370 ppm 1.85 kg SO2/t acid
Status Operating Operating
Year Built 2008 2006
Technology Chemetics Outotec
Contractor Furnace Fabrica Furnace Fabrica

The plant supplies sulphuric acid to the Tailings Leach Plant. Importation of sulphuric acid into Zambia has significantly reduced as a result of the commissioning of this new plant.  

The main acid plant of KCM at Nchanga produces sulphuric acid from off-gases produced by the Nchanga smelter. The TLP uses sulphuric acid as the leaching agent, which is entirely sourced from KCM's acid plant at Nchanga. Furthermore, upon completion of the Chingola Refractory Ore (CRO) Project, sulphuric acid from the main acid plant will be used to extract copper from stockpiled CRO.

In addition to its main acid plant, KCM has a sulphur burning plant at Nchanga, which is currently inactive, but could be recommissioned as required. 

The investment in the sulphur burning plant is reported to be $12 million.


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Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM) is the largest mining and metals company in Zambia with annual capacity of 200,000 metric tonnes of copper.

In October 2008, KCM commissioned a new smelter at Nchanga with a cobalt recovery furnace. Operations at the Nchanga smelter are currently increasing towards full capacity and the smelter has already achieved rated capability in capacity and recovery. The Company believes that the Nchanga smelter is the only facility of its kind in Africa that is capable of recovering cobalt from copper concentrates. This cobalt, which is produced in the form of a copper-alloy, is marketed to cobalt processing plants. Captured sulphur dioxide gas is recycled back into sulphuric acid, which is then utilised in the tailings leach operations at the TLP. Some of the excess acid is sold to domestic and foreign customers.

The Nchanga smelter is designed to process copper concentrate mined at KCM's mines, but the smelter also can process certain amounts of third-party copper concentrate mixed with KCM's concentrate. As such, the smelter's operating capacity at a given time depends on the amount of copper concentrate produced by KCM's mines and the level of third-party concentrate which can be safely fed to the smelter mixed with KCM's own concentrate.

References -
News December 10, 2019 - Ministry of Mines permanent secretary Barnaby Mulenga says operations at the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) acid plant still remain suspended until the mining company complies with certain directives.  And Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) chief executive officer John Msimuko says the report on the sulphuric acid accident findings is not yet ready.  Over two weeks ago, Mines minister Richard Musukwa announced that operations at the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) plant had been suspended until investigations into the sulphuric acid spillage were completed.  In an interview, Mulenga said KCM had not yet been given clearance to resume the operations.   “That part of the operations are still being closed. When they give them a matter like this, it is a compliance issue when they have complied with the directive, that is when officers can [go] check. It is only when officers check that they finally give a go ahead, at the moment, we are waiting for them to comply. Once they comply, that is when the clearance will be given,” said Mulenga.  And in a separate interview, Msimuko said the Agency would only sanction KCM based on strong facts.  “I cannot give you details now. There is something we are processing, you may have to bear with me. Well, that depends on what we find because for us, what we find on the ground, we establish because as you know, these are legal matters and most times they border on criminal offence so the burden of proof is very high on us we like to do a thorough job and if we arrive at that decision, it has to be backed by very strong facts,” said Msimuko.  www.diggers.news

November 22, 2019
- Mines minister Richard Musukwa says operations at the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) plant have been suspended until investigations into the sulphuric acid spillage are completed.  And Musukwa says 269 people, among them 232 pupils were affected by the toxic gas.  Rendering a ministerial statement to Parliament, Thursday, Musukwa said the plant would be recommissioned after all leakages were sealed and repairs completed.  “In order to avoid the reoccurrence of a similar incidence, my ministry has instituted the following intervention measures; operations at the plant have been suspended with immediate effect and plant units switched off until full investigations by all concerned stakeholders are complete and remedial measures are put in place. KCM has been instructed to provide a stable supply of power during the starting period on order to prevent the disruptions. KCM has been instructed to improve the convertor efficiency in order to reduce the time required for the stability operations during the plant starting period,” Musukwa said.“The House may wish to know that the plant will be recommissioned after all leakages are sealed and repairs completed by mine safety inspectors and Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA). These measures have been taken in the interest of the safety of our people in and around the mining area in Chingola as well as the interest of environmental protection. Accidents in the process of mining are undesirable because they are a cost to both government and the company and indeed a negative impact on the environment. In this regard, government will ensure that mining companies subscribe to the most comprehensive and robust safety standards accepted globally. I wish to call for maximum adherence to safety standards and protocols by all mining houses. Government will continue propagation for pro activeness by the mines in a bid to avoid accidents and accidents which really can be avoided.”And Musukwa gave an account of what led to the accident at the plant saying it was caused by a power surge.“Mr Speaker, the gassing incident occurred on Thursday 14th November 2019 from 22:00 to 08:00 on Friday the following day. Mr Speaker, at the Sulphur burning plant of KCM’s Nchanga Smelter plant in Chingola, the incident occurred simultaneously. This incidence, Mr Speaker, was caused by a power surge. According to the preliminary investigations, the plant had undergone some repairs in the morning of 14th November 2019 on the Sulphur banner, the heat exchanger number two and part of the gas convertor with the intention of sealing the gas leaks which were noticed earlier on. After repairing the plant, it was then restarted however, before temperatures could be raised to reach the required operating conditions, there was a power surge which tripped the starter blower and resulted in the process disturbance before critical operating parameters had been initialized,” Musukwa explained.“Mr Speaker, the power surge occurred at 18:25 and at 18:35, operations were restarted but the temperatures in the convertor had already dropped. This decreased temperature affected the convention rate for Sulphur dioxide to Sulphur trioxide thus resulted in the prolonged escape of sulphur dioxide gas through the stacks in the atmosphere. Mr Speaker, the escaped gasses descended to the ground level due to the high humidity affecting about 269 people in the area. Among them were 11 KCM employees, 52 KCM contractors, 232 pupils from Nchanga Trust School, 37 of whom were in Grade 12 and one member from the community. The affected people were rushed to the mine hospital and Nchanga Hospital where they were examined and their conditions confirmed stable by 16:00 hours on the 15th of November 2019.”When Chifubu Member of Parliament Frank Ng’ambi asked if the affected Zambians would be compensated, Musukwa responded in the affirmative.  “It is not a question of KCM considering compensation, it is a case of KCM following the law consistent with the environment. All protection, once KCM investigation in this matter is completed, the law will take its course and ensure that KCM provides remedial actions both to the environment and people affected,” he responded.  Meanwhile, Mufulira Member of parliament Evans Chibanda asked what the cost implications were and how long the plant would be closed to which Musukwa said no cost implications superseded the safety of the environment.  “There will be some cost [implications] which will be [bared by] both by the company and the entities that depend directly or indirectly on KCM but there is no work, there is no cost, no value which is more important than the safety of our people and our environment. We are hoping that within two weeks, the plant should come back on stream,” said Musukwa.

November 17, 2019
- Zambian government says it will penalize Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) depending on the outcome of the investigations that have been launched to establish the cause of gassing of close to 300 people which also included KCM employees, a senior government official has said.  Richard Musukwa, Minister of Mines and Mineral Development said the government in conjunction with local environmental regulators have launched investigations into the incidence which left over 53 KCM employees and 232 pupils from Nchanga Trust School hospitalized on Friday.  The Vedanta-owned mining firm has had its Acid plant shut by ZEMA to pave way for investigations into what caused the incident.  "If found wanting KCM will be penalized. There is need to conduct operations with care especially when handling such operations involving gas," he said.  Nchanga Member of Parliament Chali Chilombo called on stakeholders to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.  In a press release, KCM corporate general manager Eugene Chungu regretted the incident which he said was caused by an electrical surge.  Chungu said the incident that occurred at the Nchanga 500 TPD Sulphur Burning Plant was gas emission, which affected the plant area and surrounding community resulting in some members of the community being hospitalized.  http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-11/18/c_138562444.htm

November 15, 2019
- Zambia's environmental regulator said on Friday that an acid plant belonging to Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has been shut following a report of an abnormal discharge of sulphur dioxide which has affected residents living around the mining area in Chingola district on the Copperbelt Province.  The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) said the mining firm has shut the acid plant and that a team of inspectors has been dispatched to investigate the incident.  Ireen Chipili, corporate affairs manager at the regulator said in a statement that preliminary information availed by the mining firm indicate that a number of people living around the mining area have been affected by the emissions.  Some people have since been hospitalized, she added.  She further said further regulatory action will be undertaken in line with the provisions of the country's environmental laws once investigations have been concluded.  http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-11/16/c_138558675.htm

November 15, 2019 - Konkola Copper Mines Plc (KCM) announces that an incident occurred at the Nchanga 500 tonnes per day (TPD) Sulphur Burning Plant where some gas emission affected the plant area and surrounding community resulting in some members of the community being hospitalized for precautionary observation.  Last evening at around 18:30hrs, the 500 TPD Sulphur Burning Plant experienced an electrical power supply surge which tripped and disturbed the Plant. During the early hours of this morning, 15 November 2019, while in the process of stabilizing the plant some gases escaped into the atmosphere and the surrounding areas including the New East Mill Crusher Plant where 53 employees experienced irritation and inhalation difficulties. They were taken to the hospital for mandatory observation before being pronounced medically fit and discharged.  Related to this incident, this morning at around 07:30hrs the Company received a report that Nchanga Trust Secondary School was not conducive for the pupils to sit for Grade 12 examinations and Nchanga Trust Secondary School Management referred 232 pupils to the Hospital for observation. KCM working with various Government Departments in the District immediately formed a joint team to assess the suitability of the school to continue being an Examination Centre for the scheduled Grade 12 Examination. The team has since determined the school to be safe for normal occupation. The Nchanga South Hospital Medical staff certified the 37 grade 12 pupils fit to write the examinations and all the pupils returned to school where they sat for the examinations.  KCM has launched investigations into the matter to prevent a recurrence of this regrettable incident. The investigations are being done jointly with Mine Safety Department, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and others.  The 500 TPD Sulphur Burning Plant is not located within the Smelter facilities and the incident does not have any impact on the scheduled start up of the Smelter.  KCM Management would like to extend sincere gratitude to the civic authorities, Nchanga Trust School Management, the parents as well as the members of the community for the support extended during this incident. www.lusakatimes.com

February 21, 2018
- Zambia’s largest integrated copper producer Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), subsidiary of LSE-listed diversified miner Vedanta Resourcesrecently hosted a tour of its operations in Chingola for a delegation of Finnish companies conducting business in the mining industry. The tour was led by Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen as a means for the two countries to collaborate on business opportunities.Olkkonen has hailed KCM’s plans to expand its operations and increase production to 500 000 tpa, stating that the expansion of operations was not only good for the company but also a cause for optimism for the country’s mining sector.“It’s been a very interesting and valuable visit. KCM’s plan to invest more and expand operations is definitely a cause for optimism for the mining industry and Zambia as a whole. I can see that KCM clearly has a bright future in Zambia.”Olkkonen also commended KCM for investing in clean technology at the smelter as this was good for the environment.“The Nchanga Smelter speaks for itself. It’s one of the cleanest in the world. I think it’s good for KCM and other mining companies to use efficient and clean technology in their operations,” he said.The Nchanga smelter employs technology from Finland and captures 99.7% of sulphur dioxide to make it as one of the best processing plants.KCM CEO Steven Din said the company had set in motion plans to ramp up production and reach the target of 500 000 tpa.“Reaching this tagert will not only be beneficial to KCM but will also help Zambia to regain its top position as a copper producer in Africa which was lost to the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Din said.The Finnish delegation includes Geological Survey of Finland, Robit, A- insinoorit, Business Finland, Ima Engineering, Sleipner and Normet.The delegation is in the country to explore business opportunities and strengthen existing business relationships with firms like KCM, which has procured a lot of technology and some equipment from Finland.

October 16, 2017
- Zambian villagers have won the right to sue mining giant Vedanta in the United Kingdom (UK) over pollution of their water sources — in a landmark judgement that paves the way for other London-based multinationals to be held liable in English courts for their subsidiaries in developing countries.  On October 13, London’s Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the British-Indian mining company against a May 2016 High Court judgement that allowed Zambian villagers to have their case heard in the UK.  A total of 1,826 Zambians from four villages in the mineral-rich Copperbelt region are pursuing claims for damages against Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).  The villagers are seeking damages for continual pollution of their water sources from the KCM operated Nchanga Copper Mine since 2004, when Vedanta took over KCM, has led to diseases and devastation of their crops, causing widespread loss of health and livelihoods.  Vedanta, well-known for its environmental and human rights violations worldwide, had appealed that the damages claim could be brought only within the jurisdiction of Zambia.  The affected communities first took KCM to court in Zambia in 2006 over severe poisoning of the Kafue river, on which the villagers depend for all purposes from drinking to irrigation.  The Zambian High Court in 2011 had awarded them a compensation of $2 million, but after KCM appealed, the Zambian Supreme Court in 2015 overruled the compensation even as it held the company guilty.  After that, the villagers turned to the UK to seek justice. They are being represented in the UK by London law firm Leigh Day.  After the verdict, Vedanta issued a statement that it was looking to appeal against the judgement in the Supreme Court. The company also said that the verdict only related to the question of jurisdiction and “was not a ruling or a determination on the merits of the claims”.  Two years ago, a leaked internal report commissioned from Canadian pollution control experts had shown that Vedanta Resources’ 12-square-mile mine in the Copperbelt region had been discharging sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals into the water bodies and underground aquifers near the mining town of Chingola.  Besides, a leaked letter from a KCM doctor stated that the water collected for testing in 2011 was not fit for human consumption.  The Guardian quotes from the letter: “The water is acidic and the copper and iron levels exceed permitted levels… The impurities […] can cause cancer in the bloodstream and unhealthy conditions in internal organs. The people in that village should be advised to stop using the same water.”  Vedanta has been accused of massive human rights and environmental violations in India as well as other countries, including Sri Lanka, Zambia, Liberia and South Africa.  So infamous are Vedanta’s violations that it was put on the exclusion list of the world’s largest sovereign wealth or state-owned investment fund, the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) of Norway.  In India, the indigenous communities of Odisha in 2014 won a 19-year-old battle against the company mining their sacred Niyamgiri hills for bauxite.  Human rights watchdog Amnesty International had also indicted Vedanta of violating the human rights of Odisha tribals.  In Goa, Vedanta was indicted by the Shah Commission in 2012 for illegal mining of iron ore.

August 3, 2017
- Zambian villagers await a landmark judgement that could help hold British companies to account for their actions abroad.  Over 1,800 people from farming and fishing communities near Chingola, Zambia are waiting to hear if they can make a claim for damages in the English courts against UK mining company Vedanta Resources and its subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM).  A decision from London’s Court of Appeal is expected by the end of the summer. If the villagers are successful, it could become easier in future for multinational companies based in the UK to be held to account for alleged human rights and environmental abuses in other countries.  Hundreds of people living near Chingola were hospitalised due to water contamination from sulphuric acid and other chemicals from a KCM-owned mine in 2006.   “We have no water source apart from the river and it’s totally polluted,” villager Leo Chikopela told campaign group Foil Vedanta. “Most of us are very weak and have constant stomach pains. When we bathe using this water our skin itches.”  Local people have also reported deaths after their relatives drank from a local river.  The villagers were previously awarded compensation in the Zambian High Court, but KCM appealed. In 2015 the Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict but removed the compensation. Vedanta argues that it does not have a duty of care to claimants potentially polluted by the activity of its subsidiary, KCM. Lawyers for the villagers argue that taking the case to the UK is the only way the villagers will get justice.  Vedanta's track record on the environment and human rights is questionable. It was excluded from Norwegian Pension Fund investments due to an “unacceptable risk” that the company will “cause or contribute to severe environmental damage and serious or systematic human rights violations.”  Mining companies control key mineral resources across the world, and have impacted on land based communities and indigenous peoples through associated forced evictions, pollution, and violence in or near mine areas. Often local people see little of the profits, despite the exploitation of their mineral rich land and the environmental and health consequences.
  “The environmental racism of copper mining companies, and the impunity they enjoyed during Rhodes' British South African Company era is continuing to haunt Zambia through the colonial legacy issues of KCM/Vedanta,” said Samarendra Das from Foil Vedanta.  London is a key investment hub for extractive/mining industries. Major lobbyists the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) are based there, as is metals price fixing mechanism the London Metal Exchange, and precious metals trader, the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). Many multinational mining companies also maintain links with London through trading on the London Stock Exchange which offers them a ‘cloak of respectability’.  “Being listed on the London Stock Exchange offers companies an explicit air of credibility, because the LSX presents itself as providing strict oversight around who gets a listing and who doesn't,” explains Liam Barrington-Bush, former Communications Worker at the London Mining Network. “In practice there is not a lot of scrutiny that these companies have to undergo, in terms of anything ethical, environmental or social, to get themselves listed.”  While London-based and -listed companies are benefiting from the natural resources of far flung countries – at the expensive of local people – they are not always paying what they should for the privilege.  A 2016 War on Want report titled The New Colonialism (pdf), showed that 101 London Stock Exchange listed companies had mining operations in 37 sub-Saharan African countries, collectively controlling over $1 trillion worth of Africa’s oil, gold, diamonds, coal and platinum. Of the 101 companies, 25 of them were incorporated in tax havens.  While companies are making money from Africa's resources, the continent is losing it. In 2015 Africa received nearly $162 billion in aid, loans, foreign investment and remittances, but lost $203 billion thanks to multinational corporations, debt payments, tax dodging and the costs imposed by climate change. In other words, the rest of the world received over $41 billion a year from African countries – money that could have been spent on basic needs such as healthcare and education.  Vedanta has been accused of tax dodging in the past through under-pricing copper sold through KCM in order to pay less tax in Zambia.  As the Vedanta AGM takes place in London on Monday 14 August, a Global Day of Action against will take place – with events in Zambia, India and the UK – putting further pressure on Vedanta over the Zambia case and other communities affected by pollution, human rights abuses and tax evasion around the world.


December 19, 2013 - The Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) says last week’s accidental release of Sulphur Dioxide by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chingola did not have serious implications on the environment.  ZEMA Spokesperson Irene Chipili says this is because the accidental release of the hazardous gas was only for a short period of time when the mine experienced a power outage.  Ms. Chipili has told Qfm News in a telephone interview that within the same three hours the mine encountered a power outage, it shut down part of its operations leaving only essential facilities and further managed to source back up power from Copperbelt Energy to carry on with its operations.  Ms. Chipili explains that this is also according to ZEMA and KCM’s reports over what transpired the day that there was the accidental release of Sulphur dioxide in the air in Chingola after a national wide power outage.  And Ms. Chipili has reaffirmed ZEMA’s resolve to continue monitoring industries and facilities in line with the recently introduced Statutory Instrument (SI) 112 aimed at licensing operations of all industries for different kinds of operations which include emissions and hazardous waste disposal.


November 11, 2013 - Local Government and Housing Minister Emerine Kabanshi has given Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) a seven-day ultimatum in which to reduce sulphur dioxide pollution in the Mwambashi River.  Ms Kabanshi said KCM should immediately find solution to reduce sulphur dioxide in water in order for Nkana Water and Sewerage Company (NWSC) to supply clean water to the residents of Kalulushi.  She revealed this over the weekend during her tour of the Nkana water plants in Kalulushi and Chingola.  Mr Kabanshi said KCM needed to come up with a short term plan in seven days in which to solve the problem caused by the mining giant.  “I am giving you seven days ultimatum of which you as a company should find a solution to reduce sulphur dioxide as soon as possible.  “When I come back next week I should find something done about this problem,” Ms Kabanshi said.  And KCM general manager sustainability Howard Chilundika said the company was committed to cover the cost of pumping water from Kitwe to kalulushi and also to reduce the sulphur dioxide in the water.  Mr Chilundika said KCM was aware of the water problem and was working hand in hand with Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and Nkana water in order to supply clean water.  Nkana water managing director Diana Makwaba said pumping water from Kitwe to Kalulushi was not sustainable as the company was already facing challenges in supplying water to Kitwe resisdents.  Ms Makwaba said KCM should come up with a cost effective plan immediately to avoid other plants shutting down due to the same discharge as the Ganaton plan had already shut down.  She said the levels of pollution in the water was to high and should be reduced so that other plants do not get affected especially the Kitwe plant.  Ms Makwaba said if the Kitwe plant got affected it would be closed of which it would be a distdisaster to Kitwe residents.  “My major concern is having any of our plants closed due to the same problem as we have already closed one plant and we do not want anymore plants.  “KCM should ensure that water discharge is reduced in order to residents to receive clean water in their community.” She said.

MTPD - Metric Tonne per Day           STPD - Short Ton per Day
MTPA - Metric Tonne per Annum      STPA - Short Ton per Annum
SA - Single Absorption
DA - Double Absorption

* Coordinates can be used to locate plant on Google Earth