Explosion kills 6 at Evraz iron mine in Russia, 7 more miners missing

[Death total has risen to 8. Ed.] YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) – An explosion killed six miners on Wednesday in a Russian iron ore mine owned by Evraz Group, the company said, in the latest disaster to afflict Russia’s mining industry in recent years. Seven more miners are missing after the blast near the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Ural mountains, which occurred when explosives detonated unexpectedly as they were being transported 180 metres (590 ft) below the surface of the Yestyuninskaya mine.

“All work at the Yestyuninskaya mine has been stopped. All staff have been evacuated,” Alexei Agureyev, Evraz Group’s vice-president for public relations, said in a statement.

The Yestyuninskaya mine, one of four mines belonging to Evraz subsidiary Vysokogorsky GOK around Nizhny Tagil, is a supplier of raw materials to the huge steel plant in the city.

Evraz, whose shareholders include billionaires Roman Abramovich and Alexander Abramov, is the largest steel producer in Russia in terms of the volumes it produces domestically.

A spokesman for the regional Emergencies Ministry, Alexander Sorokaletovskikh, said 123 people had been in the mine at the moment of the blast.

“Preliminary information indicates that the cause of the blast was a breach of rules governing the transportation of explosives,” he told Reuters by telephone.

Russia’s mining industry, and Evraz in particular, have been plagued by disasters in recent years. Nearly 150 people died in 2007 in two separate methane gas explosions at Siberian coal mines, both of which were part-owned, then fully acquired, by Evraz.

Low maintenance of Soviet-era mines and the lax application of safety rules as workers chase production-related bonuses have been cited as reasons for prior accidents, although it is unclear what led the latest explosion at Yestyuninskaya.

Evraz said an investigation was under way.



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