Vedanta Resources Plc officially de-listed from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on Monday morning, throwing its ownership of several of its subsidiaries, including Zambian asset, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Plc, into doubt.
And Mineworkers’ Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Joseph Chewe has challenged KCM to clearly state its position on whether Vedanta’s de-listing from the LSE will have any impact on job prospects.
According to London-based NGO, Foil Vedanta, loud protests took place at the company’s last London AGM, Monday, as company founder and chairman Anil Agarwal skipped the crucial meeting, creating uproar among protesters and shareholders.
“Vedanta Resources officially de-listed from the London Stock Exchange at 8am, Monday morning,” Foil stated in a press release issued, Monday.
Foil Vedanta, an independent grassroots solidarity organization focused on British-Indian mining giant, Vedanta Resources Plc, organized the protests, which coincided with the troubled mining giant’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
According to Foil, the protest was held at Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, demanding that British regulatory authorities do not let Vedanta flee the LSE without being held to account.
Representatives for FCA Directors were handed copies of a damning report “Vedanta’s Billions: Regulatory failure, environment and human rights”, published by Foil Vedanta and a coalition of organisations, days before the massive protest in the British capital.
“Inside the meeting dissident shareholders asked questions about the police shooting of thirteen protesters against Vedanta’s copper smelter in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu in May. Another shareholder asked how much Vedanta spent on litigation or bribes, given the number of court cases they are tied up in at their various operations.”
And reacting to the development, Chewe expressed concerns about KCM’s outlook in terms of job sustainability at the troubled mine.
“We are yet to ask them [KCM] the impact of [Vedanta’s] de-listing from the London Stock Exchange, and how it will affect KCM operations considering the status of KCM, which is worrying; it is a concern to everyone, particularly all our representative workers at KCM. It’s a worrisome situation,” Chewe said in an interview, Tuesday.
He noted that KCM was in dire need of recapitalization owing to its several financial challenges.
“Of course, the purpose of being listed on the stock exchange is to get more money so that people can buy shares and eventually contribute more capital to the company. But in this case, with the situation at KCM, which is dire need of recapitalization, we can say we are concerned. And management needs to shed more light so that workers can work in peace and know that this company is going to continue and able to pay its obligations,” Chewe added.
“So, we will need to have concrete position from KCM; how that de-listing will impact KCM? And as worker representatives, I think it is important we have a correct position so that we know that this is a viable operation.”
KCM was unable to comment on the development by press time.
Last Thursday, reggae superstar Maiko Zulu was arrested outside the British High Commission in Lusaka, holding up a banner demanding that Agarwal be held to account for the crimes his company committed in Zambia before Vedanta de-listed.
Zulu, who held up the sign that read: “Hold Anil Agarwal to account for Zambian crimes before de-listing,” gave this statement to the media, referring to KCM’s pollution of the River Kafue, for which the landmark case of 1,826 farmers against Vedanta will be heard in London Supreme Court in the New Year, as well as the infamous Tuticorin massacre.
Samarendra Das, from Foil Vedanta, who is the primary author of the critical Vedanta’s Billions report, said:
“Anil Agarwal is so desperate to avoid public scrutiny following the Tuticorin massacre that he ran away from his own company AGM. We cannot [let] him and his board escape accountability and justice in the UK, under whose jurisdiction they have committed widespread financial, human rights and environmental crimes. The FCA and City of London must now initiate proceedings against Vedanta or remain complicit in enabling and mitigating these abuses,” stated Das.
The report ‘Vedanta’s Billions’, released several days before Monday’s AGM, is a summary of legal judgments against Vedanta across its operations, revealing its abusive modus operandi, with special focus on illegal mining in Goa, pollution and tax evasion in Zambia, as well as illegal expansion and pollution in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, industrial disaster at Korba in Chhattisgarh, among several other scandals.
The report concludes that:
“Some companies have de-listed due to a legitimate need to pursue long-term company strategy, which may not be supported by shareholders’ emphasis on short-term profitability. However in this case, Vedanta’s track record of human rights, environmental and financial violations, together with its already complicated financial structure, strongly suggests that de-listing is part of a policy to further limit public scrutiny of its operations,” read the report.
British MP Hywel Williams from the Welsh party, Plaid Cymru, who received a copy of the report, said:
“This is a deeply concerning and disturbing report. I will be taking note of its findings and seeking to ensure that MPs, policymakers and the Westminster Government are informed of its findings. The report once again emphasises the need for action by UK authorities to investigate and regulate London-listed corporations that carry out illegal and immoral acts overseas,” Williams is quoted as saying in the report.