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Blast-Hit Coalmine to Remain Shut for Six Months

The explosion at the Zemestanyurt coalmine occurred on Wednesday outside Azadshahr, Golestan Province.The explosion at the Zemestanyurt coalmine occurred on Wednesday outside Azadshahr, Golestan Province.

Labor Minister Ali Rabiei said the coalmine in northern Iran, which was hit by an explosion this week, is not expected to reopen for six months.

The explosion occurred on Wednesday at the Zemestanyurt coalmine outside Azadshahr, Golestan Province. All the 35 trapped miners were killed or are feared dead, though the search is continuing.

The mine supplies coking coal to the country’s steel industry. Despite the seriousness of the accident, an industry source told S&P Global Platts on Thursday that it is not expected to have any significant impact on the country’s steel output.

The mine’s production is about 100,000 tons per year, the source said, which could be replaced with output from other mines or partly through imports.

The bulk of Iran’s steel sector relies on natural gas. Just some 15% of the country’s steel production is based on using coal.

Iran produced roughly 1.68 million tons of coal in 2016, according to data from state-owned Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation, with most of the total consumed by Esfahan Steel Company, the only major steel producer to use a blast furnace.

Officials said the explosion was caused by accumulated methane gas. A source that has seen the blast site told Platts that the mine suffered considerable damage and would be unlikely to reopen for at least a few months.

Iranian coalmines are said to be dangerous because of their geological composition and use of outdated technology, according to a source with knowledge of the mining sector.

“The government is trying to improve coalmining safety standards,” the source added.

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