(Adds Konkola saying it will “fully comply” with order)
LUSAKA, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Zambia’s environmental management authority on Monday ordered Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) owned by Vedanta Resources to dispose of copper concentrates it imported from Chile because they had high levels of arsenic, a toxic substance.
Zambia’s environmental authority said KCM must submit a full programme for sending the material back to Chile or to other smelting facilities outside Zambia by Friday.
“KCM has been directed to immediately stop any plans to process the copper concentrates containing high levels of arsenic,” the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) said.
KCM said in a statement it would “fully comply” with the ZEMA directive and that it was working on logistics to take the copper concentrate out of Zambia.
KCM had to import its first semi-processed copper from Chile to ensure its Nchanga smelter operates at full capacity.
On June 25 Zambia asked KCM to delay the processing of copper concentrate it imported from Chile until it puts in place safety measures to avoid pollution.
The ministry of mines said that the level of arsenic in copper concentrates mined in Zambia was 1 percent but that the material imported from Chile had a level of around 4 percent.
Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Louise Heavens and Joe Brock