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145-men fight between Chinese and Kazakh miners in Kazakhstan, 65 injured

10 july 2015, 22:30
0
Photo courtesy of rts.tu.
Photo courtesy of rts.tu.

A large fight between Kazakh and Chinese oil workers of Aktogay mine in Kazakhstan has taken place on July 8, Tengrinews reports citing KAZ Minerals company developing the deposit.

Aktogay mine located in eastern Kazakhstan about 250 km away from the Kazakh-Chinese border is the second largest project developed by KAZ Minerals PLC, Kazakhstan's London-listed copper company created after  restructuring of Kazakhstan's largest copper producer Kazakhmys back in 2014. KAZ Minerals focuses on large scale and low cost open pit mining.

The Aktogay mine project includes an open-pit mine and a concentrator that will produce copper cathode from oxide ore and copper concentrate from sulphide ore that also contains some valuable molybdenum as a by-product. 

According to the police, the fight started in a canteen with one of the Chinese workers complaining to the canteen employees about a poor quality meal and small portions.

The canteen employees explaining to the Chinese worker that the size of the portions was strictly regulated and the amount of food the canteen had was calculated based on the total number of workers of the enterprise and therefore, they could not offer second helpings.

Then, according to the police, Chinese workers began loudly expressing their dissatisfaction ignoring the efforts of their supervisor - also a Chinese - to calm them down. Security staff that was in the canteen tried to resolve the incident and walked the complaining workers out of the canteen. However, the Chinese workers used force against the security personnel and targeted the canteen's cook. A large fight involving over one hundred men erupted. 

Police crews that arrived at the site at 1.15 p.m. stop the fight. The company confirmed the incident the same day.

"As a result, 31 workers were injured, including 1 guard and 21 Chinese nationals. They were taken to the hospitals of Ayagoz town and Ust-Kamenogorsk city,” the press office of the region's Internal Affairs Department said on June 8. 

A pre-trial investigation was initiated under the article 255 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan - Hooliganism

Additional forces of Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry were dispatched to the site to ensure that no follow-up fights erupt. “Currently, the situation is stable and under control. All the statutory actions are being carried out,” the Department said.

In addition, the quality of services the canteen provides to the workers is being checked.

The region’s Governor Danial Akhmetov, regional prosecutor and head of the region's Internal Affairs Department visited the site and had a meeting on the incident with representatives of the company and relevant local authorities. They spoke to the workers and confirmed that the conflict was settled. "The workers have returned to their jobs," the Department's press office said.

The region’s Governor Danial Akhmetov also ordered creation of a commission to investigate the incident at Aktogay mine operated by KAZ Minerals and find out all the details of the conflict. 

Following the incident, the Government of Kazakhstan held an emergency meeting on June 9, the press office of Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry told Tengrinews. “On July 8, an incident, which then turned into a mass brawl involving Chinese citizens and local workers, occurred in East Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, people from both sides were injured. In connection to this, an emergency meeting of the Government with representative of all the relevant state bodies was held," the press service of the Foreign Ministry said.

The Foreign Ministry assured that it was doing everything possible to put things to rights and conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the incident. "We are confident that all the perpetrators from both sides will be held responsible according to the law. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and the Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan are cooperating on the matter," the Foreign Ministry said.

After the investigation of the incident was partly completed on July 10 Vice-Prime-Minister of Kazakhstan Berdibek Saparbayev presented an update on the number of participants and those injured in the fight. "According to preliminary data, 145 people participated in the fight two days ago, 65 of them were brought to the hospital after the fight. 31 men are still at hospitals in Ayagoz town and Ust-Kamenogorsk city. Their condition is moderate, none of them sustained grave injuries. More details will be available after the investigation is completed," he said.  

He said the incident was more of a "domestic violence", emphasising that it had no political reasons or inter-ethnic discord behind it. 

Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina (Assemgul Kassenova contributed to the story)


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