The Vedanta office building in Mumbai in this file picture.

INTERNATIONAL -  Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) smelter was on Wednesday shut down for annual maintenance two days earlier than planned after a leak, the provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu said.

Lungu said the smelter, which was scheduled to undergo annual maintentance for 35 days starting on Friday, would now remain shut for 37 days until Nov 15 when output would resume.

“There was a leak and hot copper touched water creating steam. We have therefore decided to shut down the smelter for annual maintenance two days ahead of schedule,” Lungu said.

Vedanta has been locked in a dispute with the Zambian government since May when Lusaka appointed a liquidator to run KCM, which is 20 percent owned by Zambia’s state mining company ZCCM-IH and the rest by Vedanta.

Zambia accused KCM of breaching the terms of its licence, an accusation the company has denied.

In July, The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg granted Vedanta Resources an urgent interim order blocking minority shareholder Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM) from liquidating Konkola Copper Mines (KCM). 

The Indian-owned company is fighting the Zambian government’s decision, through ZCCM, to appoint provisional liquidator Milingo Lungu to wind up KCM operations after Lusaka accused Vedanta of breaching the terms of its mining licence. 

The interdict was granted after two days of argument last week, where Vedanta contended that ZCCM had breached and continued to breach the KCM shareholders’ agreement by instituting the proceedings against KCM.

It argued that ZCCM had pushed ahead with the provisional liquidator instead of reverting to the agreed-upon dispute resolution mechanism for shareholder disputes. 

Reuters