Astana, 30 October 2023 (TDI): At least 45 coal miners were killed in a Kazakh mine fire that was sparked by a methane gas explosion, authorities in the country said on Sunday.

According to a statement from the Ministry for Emergency Situations, the explosion at the Kostenko mine in the Karaganda region early on Saturday caused a fire, as reported by the state-run Kazinform news agency.

The ministry reported that more than 200 workers were removed from the mine and put in a haven and that one miner is still missing.

Owned by the largest steel producer in the world, ArcelorMittal, with headquarters in Luxembourg, the mine is managed locally by ArcelorMittal Temirtau, which runs several coal and iron ore mines throughout Kazakhstan.

ArcelorMittal has issued a statement of condolences, stating that “no words can convey the pain and bitterness” it feels over the loss of its employees.

“Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to the families of those who have lost loved ones,” it continued. “All affected employees will receive comprehensive care and rehabilitation assistance. Our efforts are aimed precisely at this, and also at close cooperation with government authorities.”

The mine has been run by ArcelorMittal since 1995. According to the company, there have been “a number of fatal accidents” there in the last two years because of the mine’s “complex geology,” which puts workers at high risk of injury.

“There is little consolation in the fact that the company has made significant efforts, which have been further intensified since 2020, to improve safety performance at ArcelorMittal Temirtau plants,” it stated.

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“Against this backdrop, while significant efforts have been made to stabilize the situation, we have agreed with the Kazakh government to find a new path forward that will ensure the sustainability of their operation.”

President off Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, announced a national day of mourning for the deceased of kazakh mine fire on Sunday.

The US International Trade Administration estimates that in 2021, the multibillion dollar mining industry in mineral-rich Kazakhstan accounted for 17% of the country’s GDP.