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HomeEconomicsMine Hearth in Kazakhstan Kills 46, Accelerates Nationalization Talks – The Diplomat

Mine Hearth in Kazakhstan Kills 46, Accelerates Nationalization Talks – The Diplomat


Crossroads Asia | Financial system | Central Asia

After years of security issues, ArcelorMittal confirms its in talks to switch possession to Kazakhstan. However a change of possession gained’t essentially make mining any safer. 

Mine Fire in Kazakhstan Kills 46, Accelerates Nationalization Talks

Tokayev talking to households and residents in Temirtau, Karaganda area.

Credit score: Akorda.kz

When a hearth broke out on the Kostenco coal mine in Kazakhstan’s Karaganda area on October 28, 252 individuals had been underground. Though 206 had been safely evacuated to the floor, 46 miners died within the mine. 

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev didn’t mince phrases, calling ArcelorMittal – the worldwide mining big and guardian firm of ArcelorMittal Temirtau, which operates the Kostenco mine – “the worst in our historical past by way of cooperation between the federal government and [a private] enterprise.”

After expressing his condolences to the households of the miners killed, Tokayev declared October 29 a Day of Nationwide Mourning and “gave directions to terminate funding cooperation with ArcelorMittal Temirtau.”

Though the incident prompted Tokayev’s strident remarks, the federal government and the corporate had been already in talks to separate. In a press launch, ArcelorMittal confirmed that “the 2 events have been in discussions regarding the way forward for ArcelorMittal Temirtau and lately signed a preliminary settlement for a transaction that may switch possession to the Republic of Kazakhstan.” 

ArcelorMittal Temirtau is the biggest producer in Kazakhstan’s metal and mining sector. Its metal plant in Temirtau – commissioned in 1960 and purchased by ArcelorMittal in 1995 amid the post-Soviet privatization increase – has an annual capability of 4 million tons of crude metal. The corporate additionally operates eight coal mines in Karaganda area and 4 iron ore mines in Central and Northern Kazakhstan.

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4 miners died in a hearth at a distinct ArcelorMittal Temirtau mine in August. On the time, Kazakh Prime Minister Alikhan Smaiylov laid blame squarely on the ft of the mine’s homeowners, saying, “That is primarily the fault of the homeowners of the corporate. Their full ignorance of the corporate’s actions has been resulting in tragic occasions for a number of years.”

Throughout an August 19 assembly in regards to the hearth on the Kazakhstanskaya mine, Smaiylov claimed that “each second dying within the ArcelorMittal worldwide group… happens exactly within the Kazakhstan division.” He mentioned that greater than 100 individuals had died at ArcelorMittal Temirtau services within the final 15 years alone. 

Nationalization is probably not the salve Kazakhstan seeks. Getting old mining infrastructure shall be a tough, and costly, hurdle to surmount. And violations of security requirements on the mines, or different services, won’t essentially vanish with a change of possession. That mentioned, nevertheless, nationalization will tie accountability for future accidents to Astana somewhat than a distant Luxembourg-based multinational conglomerate owned by an Indian billionaire. 

As with the wildfires earlier this 12 months, Tokayev moved swiftly to put himself on the web site of the catastrophe and be seen taking motion, together with talking on to households affected.

No less than 15 individuals, largely emergency staff and firefighters, died battling blazes within the northeastern Abai area in June 2023. The spouse of one of many males who died complained to RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service that there have been by no means any spare elements for the forestry division’s automobiles; her husband took his personal automotive to battle the fireplace. “It looks like all of the automobiles are always damaged down, and so they don’t have anything to repair them with,” she mentioned.

Such feedback, and Tokayev’s fast dismissal of the Emergency Conditions minister on the time, prompted dialogue of corruption, however didn’t clearly yield any deep introspection in regards to the nexus between authorities, corruption, and security. 

Nationalization might transfer ArcelorMittal Temirtau’s mine and services into authorities management, however it won’t instantly enhance them. That may take critical effort, and cash, on Kazakhstan’s half. 

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