The EBRD is providing Mittal Steel Temirtau in east-central Kazakhstan with a US$100mn loan. The funds will support the company’s plans to modernise the coal mines to bring them in line with international best practice in terms of health and safety standards.

The project is the first in a wider EBRD initiative to support improvements to environmental, health and safety practices in mines in the bank’s countries of operations. Similar projects are in the initial stages of preparation.

Mittal Steel Temirtau is a fully integrated steelworks with an annual capacity of 5.5mn tonnes. It owns 15 coal and iron ore mines and recently decided to increase annual production of the coal mines.

Operational safety has been improved since Mittal Steel took over operations in 1996 and there has been a decline in the number of accidents, but there have been two tragic methane gas explosions in recent years and an audit report has also found room for improvement.

Mittal Steel Temirtau will use the EBRD funds for projects including gas monitoring and management systems; degassing and ventilation equipment upgrades, upgrades of electrical equipment and prevention of coal face collapses. Staff training programmes will be another key element of the project.

The EBRD will monitor the implementation of the programme very closely. The Kazakh authorities and the EBRD have also engaged in a policy dialogue to adapt the regulations for the sector to international best practice.

Narendra Chaudhary, CEO of Mittal Steel Temirtau, says: “This is another step in our extremely constructive cooperation with the EBRD aiming at developing our coal mines in Kazakhstan into world class operations.”