Zambia's biggest copper mine company, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has suspended production of copper at its Nchanga plant following the closure of its Tailings Leach Plant in Northwestern province.
The closure of the plant comes after a directive for the mining company to close its leach plant, which developed a leak leading to poisonous silt contaminating water supplies in the area.
KCM Spokesperson Sam Equamo said Saturday the company had headed the directive from the Mine Safety Department and the Environment Council of Zambia.
He said as a result of the closure of the Tailings Leach Plant the Nchanga concentrator has had to stop operations since it is unable to pump tailings to the Tailings Leach Plant.
The closure has resulted in losses of up to 352 tons of finished copper a day representing about 10 billion kwacha (2.56 million U.S. dollars).
KCM, jointly owned by the Zambian government and Indian mining firm Vedanta resources, which has a majority stake and is managing the mines, halted operations to facilitate maintenance.
Three people have been admitted to hospital after they ate food made of the contaminated water.
A disaster management unit of the government has dispatched tankers to provide clean water to the residents.