LONDON (Reuters) - British mining company Vedanta Resources faces legal action in London's High Court after a group of Zambian villagers said their water source and farmland was polluted by the firm's copper mining operations.
Vedanta owns a 79.4 percent stake in Zambia's Konkola Copper Mines, which was also named by legal firm Leigh Day in a statement announcing the legal action.
Leigh Day said they had initiated proceedings at the court on Friday on behalf of 1,800 clients from four farming communities in Zambia's copperbelt region.
"These communities have been suffering greatly for the last ten years with nothing being done to assist them or to stop the pollution," said Martyn Day, a senior partner at the firm.
A Vedanta spokesman said the firm would investigate the allegations and was seeking additional information from Leigh Day for their inquiry. The firm said they would then provide a full response.
"Until we have done that, any court proceedings are premature and unnecessary and we continue to reserve all our rights," the spokesperson said.
"All Vedanta's operating subsidiaries take the health and safety of their employees, the wellbeing of surrounding communities and the environment very seriously."
In a statement, Leigh Day alleged that Vedanta's mining operations had spilled sulphuric acid and other toxic chemicals into the rivers, streams and farmland near to where the communities live and farm.
"As one of the world’s largest mining companies, Vedanta should be doing all it can to assist these communities yet they continue to devastate the lives of the local people who are powerless against such a big company," Day said.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Tom Heneghan)