SteelWatch

ArcelorMittal urged to take responsibility and compensate families for systemic failures that led to hundreds of worker deaths and severe injuries at its Kazakhstan mines.


Temirtau – Kazakhstan
Luxembourg

The global steel conglomerate ArcelorMittal is facing demands to compensate victims and their families for nearly 30 years of deaths and injuries at its mines in Kazakhstan, before it abandons the country.  

ArcelorMittal’s mining operations in Kazakhstan have led to 18 significant accidents since 1995, resulting in over 180 fatalities and numerous severe injuries. The most recent incident at the Kostenko coal mine on October 28, 2023, claimed 46 lives, barely two months after another incident on August 17, where 5 miners were killed. 

A group of civil society organisations have today sent a joint letter to ArcelorMittal exposing the abysmal safety track record and demanding action. They highlight how repeated State investigations attribute the root cause of these accidents to methane gas outbreaks, and hold ArcelorMittal Temirtau JSC responsible for failing to properly modernise  production and ensure worker safety. For example, back in 2008, the Kazakhstan government ordered ArcelorMittal to improve its safety conditions 1. A state investigation in 2022 into explosion and deaths at the Lenin mine found the employer entirely responsible, based on lack of safety measures 2.

The suite of incidents spans almost three decades, demonstrating a pattern of failure to protect workers. With the Luxembourg-based company having now announced that it left Kazakhstan 3, there is a clear danger that it has cut and run, without full and fair compensation for workers and their families. 

In the open letter, the civil society organisations back the demands of the Black Snow Foundation, which represents victims of multiple incidents. Black Snow is demanding that ArcelorMittal takes responsibility for its failures and  fulfils all financial obligations to impacted families before leaving Kazakhstan. There are concerns that ArcelorMittal Temirtau JSC may have gone without granting compensation costs to victims, despite the substantial losses experienced by families. 

The civil society organisations’ letter contains three demands of ArcelorMittal:

  • Full, Timely and Enhanced Compensation: Assure that all compensation will be paid to the victims with a clear timeline and enhanced compensation standards that are adequate and in alignment with European and U.S. practices.
  • Human Rights Review: Conduct a thorough review of internal policies to ensure unconditional adherence to human rights in all countries of operation.
  • Project Halt: Cease projects lacking confidence in security and human rights compliance globally.

The civil society organisations emphasise the importance of swift and comprehensive action by ArcelorMittal to rectify these critical issues, demonstrating a commitment to the safety and well-being of its workforce and the communities affected by its operations.

Download the open letter in English or in Russian here (PDF).

Download the Russian version of this press release here.

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Media Contact: 

In Kazakhstan: 

Almat Kalymbetov, Black Snow Foundation, +7705 400 59 77   [email protected]

In Europe:  

Caroline Ashley, SteelWatch,  +44 7947 691911   [email protected]

References

  1. https://www.industriall-union.org/archive/icem/methane-blast-kills-at-least-23-at-arcelormittal-coal-mine-in-kazakhstan 
  2. https://ru.sputnik.kz/20221123/gibel-gornyakov-areselormittal-temirtau-itogi-raboty-komissii-ozvuchil-ilin-29645643.html 
  3. https://corporate.arcelormittal.com/media/press-releases/arcelormittal-completes-sale-of-arcelormittal-temirtau 

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