Letter to ArcelorMittal – Stop sacrificing miners in Kazakhstan
Advocacy letter | 10 June 2008
Global Action on ArcelorMittal is appalled by the recent accident in ArcelorMittal owned Tentekskaya, mines in the Karaganda region of central Kazakhstan. Five miners are feared dead following an accident on the early morning of June 2, 2008 following a cave-in and methane leak. This is the second accident in the companys Kazakh mines this year, after 30 miners were killed in a mine explosion in January. Our sincere sympathies are extended to the families of the miners who have lost their lives.
In our meeting with ArcelorMittals representatives on May 2008 in Luxembourg, the members of Global Action on ArcelorMittal, raised concerns regarding poor safety standards and old technology still being used in mines in Kazakhstan. Even community members and groups from countries like South Africa, Czech Republic, Ukraine and Romania also voiced their concerns about elevated levels of pollution, low health and safety standards and the impact on communities of other steel mills operated by ArcelorMittal. The company insisted that the significant measures have already been implemented and that safety and environmental issues are the companys first priorities in future. However, the recent mine accident in Kazakhstan just a few weeks after our meeting proves to the contrary and raises doubts about ArcelorMittal intentions to effectively deal with flawed operations in Kazakhstan and else where causing human deaths and harm.
In April 2008, the Karaganda regional public prosecutors office reported that the main reasons for the accidents at the Kazakh mines are poor working conditions that do not meet health and safety standards, an absence of measures to provide safe conditions and very outdated equipment. At a meeting of the public prosecutor offices board in April 2008 the Head of the Karaganda Regional State Department on Emergencies and Industrial Safety Control, Vladimir Pfarger, reported cases of replacing old ventilation equipment at mines with outdated equipment removed from closed coalmines. At almost all, the coalmines labour legislation is violated as workers are not provided with sufficient and functional personal protection equipment.
Against this background, since 1997 the company’s managers have doubled coal production.
Mittal has operated in Kazakhstan since 1995 and since 1997 has received over USD 400 million in low-interest public loans from the World Banks private sector arm the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). These public lenders maintain that their support has helped to raise the company’s health, safety and environmental standards to Western levels. However, a series of fatal accidents in the Karaganda mines have cast strong doubts on how effectively steel giant ArcelorMittal is using this public money.
We strongly urge ArcelorMittal to accelerate the implementation of measures to prevent such deadly accidents in Kazakhstan and at its other facilities around the world, and to regularly disclose its plans and report on its progress in improving its environmental and health and safety performance.
(Global Action on ArcelorMittal is a coalition of community and environmental groups from various countries where ArcelorMittal operates its steel mills and mines. The coalition supports community struggles and seeks to hold the worlds largest steel company accountable for the social and environmental impacts caused by its activities.)
Mouvement Ecologique/Friends of the Earth,Luxembourg
CEE Bankwatch Network
c/o Zelena akcija
Frankopanska 1 pp.952
10 000 Zagreb
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Ohio Citizen Action
614 W. Superior Ave., Suite 1200
Cleveland, OH 44113
The GARDE program of Environmental Law Service
602 00 Brno
+420 545 575 229
Karaganda Ecological Museum
Bukhar-Zhyrau av., 47,
Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance
+27 16 933 9079
555 Amory Street
Boston, MA 02130
Cleveland Service Agency
PO Box 93447
Cleveland, OH 44101-5447
+1 216 375-2581 x 111
groundwork/Friends of the Earth South Africa
6 Raven Street, Pietermaritzburg,
Paul de Clerck
Friends of the Earth, International
Rue Blanche 15,
Friends of the Earth, Europe
Rue Blanche 15,