Tragedy Strikes in Kazakhstan: 45 Lives Lost in ArcelorMittal Mine Blaze

Relatives of miners gather outside the Kostenko ArcelorMittal coal mine building (

A tragic incident in Kazakhstan has led to nationwide mourning as 45 people lost their lives in a devastating blaze at an ArcelorMittal mine. This catastrophe, which occurred at the Kostenko coal mine in the Karaganda region, is considered the worst accident in the country’s post-Soviet history. It comes after a series of deadly incidents at ArcelorMittal mines and has prompted the nationalization of the company’s local affiliate.

As of 3 pm (0900 GMT), emergency services reported that the bodies of 42 victims had been recovered, with a search ongoing for the remaining four missing miners. Unfortunately, the chances of finding the missing miners alive are very low due to the lack of ventilation and the force of the explosion that occurred during the incident.

This tragedy is the most severe mine accident in post-Soviet Kazakhstan since 2006 when 41 miners lost their lives at another ArcelorMittal site. The disaster in Karaganda has stirred anger and disbelief among the public, with many supporting the government’s decision to nationalize the company due to concerns about its safety record.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has ordered an end to cooperation with ArcelorMittal, and the company has expressed condolences to the families of the victims, acknowledging the inadequacy of any compensation for their losses. The company stated that the mines in Kazakhstan have posed a high safety risk due to complicated geology, resulting in multiple deadly accidents over the past two years.

Speaking to victims’ relatives at the mine, President Tokayev criticized ArcelorMittal, calling it “the worst enterprise in Kazakhstan’s history in terms of cooperation with the government.” A preliminary agreement has been reached between the Kazakh government and the steel giant to transfer ownership of the local firm to Kazakhstan.

Flags were flown at half-mast on a national day of mourning declared by President Tokayev. Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, around 200 miners have lost their lives in Kazakhstan, with the majority of incidents occurring at ArcelorMittal sites.

The tragic incident has spotlighted the safety concerns and the need for stricter government control in the mining industry. ArcelorMittal, led by Indian businessman Lakshmi Mittal, initially brought hope to Kazakhstan when it arrived in 1995 during a period of economic challenges, but issues related to investment and safety standards have been persistent concerns. The incident at the Kostenko coal mine serves as a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing safety in such hazardous working environments.