Zambian president has no plans to meet Anil Agarwal during India trip: Official

FILE PHOTO: Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal  (Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images).
FILE PHOTO: Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal (Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images).

ZAMBIAN president Edgar Lungu, on a visit to India this week, has no plans to meet anyone from Mumbai-listed Vedanta Resources whose copper firm faces expulsion from Zambia for allegedly failing to pay taxes, his office said Tuesday (20).

Vedanta said in a statement earlier Tuesday that it was looking “forward to engaging with president Lungu and his team in India this week and to building on the discussions held last week in Lusaka”.

But Lungu’s spokesman Isaac Chipampe said in a statement that “the president will not be meeting the Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal or his representative as he embarks on his state visit here”.

Lungu arrived in India Tuesday for a three-day state visit, his first since his re-election in 2016, according to the Indian foreign ministry.

London-based Vedanta is the majority owner of Zambia’s largest copper mining firm, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), which has been at the centre of a standoff with the government.

The state-owned ZCCM-IH is a minority shareholder in KCM.

Lungu last week met Vedanta chairman Argawal at the request of the investor but vowed to dissolve the firm, accusing KCM of violating its operational licence and not paying all its taxes.

Vedanta has denied the allegations and is locked in a legal battle with the government.

Zambia is Africa’s second-biggest copper-producing country after the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the sector is a major employer.

During his visit to India, Lungu is due to hold talks with president Ram Nath Kovind which are expected “to focus on cooperation in defence, security, geology and mineral resources, energy, health, education, infrastructure, culture, trade and investment-related issues,” the Indian foreign ministry said.