ASTANA – The Kazakh government has no plans to consider foreign investors following the transfer of ownership of ArcelorMittal Temirtau to Kazakhstan, said Kazakh Minister of Industry and Construction Kanat Sharlapaev at a press briefing on Oct. 31.
“The government is not considering any foreign investors following the transfer of ownership rights to Kazakhstan. All current conditions at the enterprise, including those based on collective agreements with trade unions, wages, and the number of employees, will remain unchanged,” said Sharlapaev.
Days after a fire broke out in the Kostenko mine in the Karagandy Region, which seemed to have been caused by a methane explosion, the government is finalizing the transfer. Sharlapaev said the deal is expected to be finalized by the end of November.
Hours after the tragic event on Oct. 28, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev arrived in the region. He met the families of the victims and convened an emergency meeting. Tokayev directed the government to suspend investment cooperation with ArcelorMittal Temirtau.
During a government meeting on Oct. 31, Minister of Emergency Situations Syrym Sharipkhanov stated that efforts are underway to resume the mine’s operations. This involves inspecting the underground excavations and conducting water-pumping activities in specific zones.
“As part of the investigation into the causes of the accident, we descended into the mine together with members of the government commission. We identified significant damages, including the displacement of mining equipment within the excavations, damage to over 15 isolation barriers, and the impairment of ventilation structures,” said the minister.
Following the fire, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appointed Vadim Basin as acting CEO of ArcelorMittal Temirtau. Basin has been serving as the first deputy akim (governor) of the Karagandy Region since October 2022. He started his career as an electrician at a metallurgical plant.
The recent tragedy marks the second fatal incident in two months at a facility managed by ArcelorMittal in Kazakhstan.
In August, a fire broke out at the Kazahstanskaya mine, killing five miners. However, the latest catastrophe, with a death toll of 46 miners, has become the deadliest incident at ArcelorMittal Temirtau to date.
On Oct. 29, Kazakhstan observed a national day of mourning, the 13th in its history and the second one this year.
Marat Bashimov, deputy of the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament, said the government should be “calm, impartial, and comply with the legislation and international obligations” in the process of terminating contracts with ArcelorMittal.
“Unilateral termination of current investment agreements without a corresponding agreement with the investor and careful legal consideration of this issue may carry great risks,” wrote Bashimov on Facebook.
He stressed the need to reconsider safety measures once the nationalization transfer is over. “We must understand that the life and safety of our citizens is the main value for the state, and it is necessary to ensure that all enterprises in the country, regardless of the owner, work according to standards guaranteeing this,” wrote Bashimov.
ArcelorMittal must be held legally accountable, he cautioned.
Beyond safety issues, ArcelorMittal Temirtau has also come under scrutiny in recent years for its breaches of environmental regulations.