On August 14, Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev held a meeting on the emergency relief operation at Mir underground mine in Mirny. Yegor Borisov, Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Vladlen Aksenov, Deputy Minister for Civil Defense, Emergency Situations and Disaster Relief, and ALROSA management participated in the meeting.
The rescue operation at Mir underground mine continues, the search is on round-the-clock. A task force of 320 people and 19 units of equipment, including 143 ALROSA’s employees, are involved in emergency recovery efforts. As of 12.04 local time, nine mine rescuer brigades with a total of 56 people were sent to the underground mine on August 14.
“Our most important task now is to try to rescue the miners, so the rescue operation continues and will continue as long as it is necessary and possible in the conditions of the underground mine. Yesterday, we discussed it with the Emergencies Minister. Today, rescuers say that within 1.5-3 days they are hoping to reach the areas on different levels where the missing people are supposedly located,” Yury Trutnev said after the meeting.
A Rostechnadzor Commission has been established and independent specialists have been engaged to investigate the causes of the accident. According to Yury Trutnev, the Commission can submit the first results of the investigation within a month.
“We must answer two questions: whether it was possible to avoid this accident and whether it was possible to predict it and shut down the mine, evacuate the people. To do it, a Rostechnadzor Commission has been established, independent experts will be engaged. I insisted that they must be people not involved today neither in the exploitation of the mine, nor in the drafting of the project. We will also try finding out whether the project documentation was properly prepared, and how the mine operation was carried out. The Rostechnadzor Commission will present the first report to the government within a month, thereafter conclusions will be drawn,” said Yury Trutnev.
In parallel with the search and rescue operation, ALROSA is developing social support measures for workers in relation to the accident. While the production is halted, the employees of the underground mine will continue receiving the salary: underground workers will be paid the average monthly earnings, other workers – 2/3 of the average monthly earnings.
ALROSA is also working over the employment of workers of the Mir mine that gave work to 1,148 employees of the Company’s subdivisions.
ALROSA President Sergey Ivanov: “By August 25, a special commission is to prepare proposals for the adjustment of production plans of other Company’s subdivisions, employment of workers, and placement of the Company’s staff in part of the jobs that are now performed by subcontractors. We are considering the possibilities of employment both in Mirny and at other production sites. Management of all ALROSA’s mining and processing divisions in Yakutia and the Arkhangelsk region are ready to employ the workers and ensure decent conditions for them. When jobs open, they will be offered to the workers of the Mir underground mine as a priority. At the same time, this problem will be solved in a comprehensive manner, both from the point of view of organizing the move and in terms of creating conditions for comfortable work and living.”
Assuming the production redistribution and increase in the production at other sites, ALROSA has not adjusted the production plan for this year so far. As ALROSA Executive Director Igor Sobolev noted, “It is quite difficult now to answer the question how long the production will be halted and how it will affect the Company’s performance in future – first of all, it is necessary to analyze the situation, find out the reasons of the accident and thereafter work out particular measures.”
According to Yury Trutnev, despite the accident at the underground mine, the Company will maintain its financial stability. “In addition to ALROSA’s existing enterprises, with the government support the Company is launching a new project – Verkhne-Munskoe diamond deposit that will also allow gaining an adequate level of rough diamond production. All the Company’s projects will allow increasing the production in a volume exceeding that at Mir mine where the production has been halted because of the accident. Therefore, the Company will maintain its financial stability and will go on working and taking care of the people,” said Yury Trutnev.