Kazakhstan to monitor workers’ safety in Mittal plant

August 27th, 2008 - 9:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 27 (IANS) Kazakhstan will track steps taken by ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker, to ensure workers’ safety in its mines in the central Asian nation, a top government official said.Deputy Kazakh Minister for energy and mineral resources Bulat Akchulakov, who was in India on a visit, Tuesday said the matter was about workers’ safety, which is of special concern for his government.

“There have been three explosions so far. Since it concerns workers’ safety, these cannot be overlooked. Safety measures have to be followed in the mines,” said Akchulakov.

The Kazakh minister said these matters had been raised with the company, which has assured that problems would be rectified.

“We have to see how it is implemented,” Akchulakov said.

ArcelorMittal operates the largest steel plant in Kazakhstan at Temirtau, the only one in that country.

It also manages several coal mines, which have witnessed two major explosions in the past two years.

In January this year, at least seven coal miners died in an underground fire in a coal mine owned by the company.

In 2006, 43 miners were killed in an explosion in the Lenin mine owned by ArcelorMittal. There have also been fatal accidents in 2004 and 2002.

The company said it has invested over $240 million in 2006 on modernising and has paid thousands of dollars as compensation.

Meanwhile, the Kazakh government will be including ArcelorMittal in its programme “thirty corporate leaders”, to underscore the company’s importance to the country.

Lakshmi Mittal had first come to Kazakhstan in 1995 to acquire the ailing steel plant, which was one of the biggest steel production units in the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Recently, ArcelorMittal cut the 2008 output forecast for its Kazakh plant to 3.8 million tonnes from 4.6 million tonnes due to power cuts in July.

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