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Activities at ArcelorMittal's Abayskaya coal mine in Kazakhstan halted until probe over

Highlights

Mine met FY 2021 output target prior to accident

Steelmaking not affected due to coal composition

  • Author
  • Ekaterina Bouckley
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Fox
  • Commodity
  • Coal Natural Gas Oil Metals

Mining at the Abayskaya coal mine in Kazakhstan will remain suspended until the state commission completes its investigation into the causes of a methane blast accident that occurred Nov. 7, a spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal Temirtau told S&P Global Platts Nov. 9.

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Six workers died and two were injured after a sudden release of methane gas in one of the shafts at the Abai, or Abayskaya, coal mine operated by ArcelorMittal Temirtau steelworks.

The stoppage will not affect the 2021-22 production of the company's coal division at Temirtau. Abayskaya has already delivered the volume planned for the full year -- 310,000 mt -- and its recent operations were mostly focused on headwork. The accident will also not have an impact on steelmaking as the mine delivers predominantly thermal coal, according the spokeswoman.

Abayskaya will launch mining at a coking coal face in the second half of 2022, she said.

ArcelorMittal Temirtau has eight captive coal mines, all in the Karaganda region of central Kazakhstan Their combined crude coal output for 2021 is forecast at 8.5 million mt, with under 1.8 million mt of that comprising thermal coal grades, a source close to the mill told Platts.

ArcelorMittal Temirtau's crude steel output, while not affected by the stoppage at Abayskaya, is unlikely to exceed 3.1 million mt, which the source characterized as low given the mill's former production of 4 million mt/year, but that was "four-five years ago." Equipment issues and the coronavirus pandemic are the factors to blame for the declining steelmaking at Temirtau, according to the source.

Spokespeople at ArcelorMittal Temirtau were not immediately available to confirm this. In 2016-17, the mill was producing roughly 4 million mt/year, according to Platts data.