09 Nov 2020

Interview with Mukan Ungitbayev, Director of Nurkazgan Mine

Staff Company today

In anticipation of Kazakhmys One- Hour Safety Meeting dedicated to occupational health and safety, we had an interview with Mukan Ungitbayev, Director of Nurkazgan Mine on the results of the work in the field of OHS.

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- Mukan Zhalgasovich, tell us about the most significant results within occupational safety achieved at the mine this year?

-Recently, we have mastered new skills in the field of occupational health and safety, and brought OHS to a higher level at Nurkazgan Mine. In detail, the following measures should be mentioned: gaining new knowledge in the field of risk management and OHS –MS; application of methodologies within risk management; demonstration of the leadership qualities of engineers and technicians staff; creation of healthy competition among engineers and technicians; planning of the goals achieving; ability to make non-standard decisions in the case of force majeure and  ability to use rationally the  resources and the potential.

- What challenges in the field of OHS faced Nurkazgan Mine at the beginning of the year, and what has been achieved?

- At the beginning of the year, we were challenging the task of reducing the TOP-35 general mine risks. At the same time, it was necessary to keep risks register for the sites, noting and assessing the possibility to reduce them. As well, we identified the emergence of new high risks and took prompt and effective measures on their reduction.  Concurrently, we worked on managing high technological risks in the process of ore mining such as adequate ventilation, lighting, communication at workplaces. As a result, we achieved the main goals. More than 400 activities have been developed, we held 8 Technical Sessions, and regularly practiced problem-solving team sessions.  Currently, we are working on development of the events directed to the OHS-MS plan implementation, and wish to take it forward to the system level.

-You have noted a great number of activities that helped to reduce the level of risks in production. Please, tell us about the key ones?

- The primary task was to assess the risks of all standard and non-standard operations, to rank them. Further, we held sessions on problems solving with development of specific measures, defined the responsible persons, and set out real deadlines. Upon that we made an accent on skills and knowledge of the performers of specific tasks. This has caused control over assignments and timely provision of the methodological assistance from Nurkazgan Mine, as well as the provision of the necessary tools such as visual OHS control boards at each site, office equipment, and rooms for meetings and reports on the performed work. I should note the merits of Ilsur Nigmatzanov. In the recent past, he held the position of Chief Engineer of Nurkazgan Mine. Thanks to his work we could determine the start position for the sites and implemented all the measures needed. His competent approach, experience, and ability to lead a team- made great results. For my part, I continued the process using my experience and knowledge.

-What difficulties did the enterprise run by solving tasks in the field of occupational safety and health, and how did the mine cope with them?

- We faced difficulties in the winter period – the period of December to February, when the traffic route was cut-off, and there were problems with the delivery of employees to the mine. We had to make difficult choices that could lead to new risks such as downtime, equipment shutdown in the mine, or general mine shutdown. A difficult situation has arisen due to the pandemic because we had never before encountered such a challenge. We had to make non-standard decisions in order not to stop the production process but to continue working with benefits and minimal risks for the Nurkazgan Mine and its stuff.

-Please, tell us about the viable solutions in the field of OHS that have been implemented at the mine, and which may be applied at other enterprises?

- Nurkazgan Mine was one of the first enterprises which implemented an initiative called “Falls from elevation”. We developed and set a cradle at Tunnel site No. 7. The innovation became low -cost and effective. Currently, all tunneling sites of the company successfully use this method. Besides, the installation of street mirrors in the areas of high- risk helped to reduce risks at the roadheads and inclines of mine workings during the rock mass transportation. The Chief Mechanic Department executed tremendous work within the chassis assembling on exploration drilling tool. That helped to reduce the multiple risks of the drilling tool falls onto workers during the loading, shipment, and tool installation at the workplace. As well we reduced the risk for crushers on Road Section # 6. After examining the root cause and excluding the presence of the worker at the site of crushing unit, we installed guards over the crushing mouth, adjusting the crushing mouth to the fraction of the rock, with fencing the working area.  At the site of “Cage lifting,” we performed workspaces revaluation and a big amount of work has been done to bring them to a safe state. The personnel completed the training program to carry out further work. This year we launched a Competition on Minimization of Occupational Injuries and Accidents for the employees of the mine.  The results of the competition very soon will be announced.

-Nurkazgan Mine demonstrates one of the highest risk management indicators among the Group's enterprises; although in January it was significantly lower. What has changed within the risk management system during this period?

-I should note the efforts and merits of Gulshat Estayeva, who currently holds the position of the OHS Main Specialist. Gulshat accompanied and trained the entire team in the methods of the injury reduction program implementation and revealed the high potential of the team leaders. It is important to note the sustained efforts of the methodologists of Nurkazgan Mine: Gulmira Kuanyshbekova and Nurgul Makhanova, who made a big job for the accurate work of the risk management system at the very beginning. Experienced employees, leading the work in different directions at once, made their contribution. A big help was from the team spirit, the ability to set tasks and find innovative solutions in the shortest possible time. As for me, I ensured control and prompt solutions on providing the necessary resources, recommendations, and sometimes the provision of methodological assistance.

-What will be the priority in the OHS field for the Nurkazgan Mine in next year?

- The priority is system support for the current measures. It is necessary to organize the work process on a proper level where functions are specified, and the persons responsible for the implementation of measures for Targets for 2021 are defined. Besides, we have plans to increase the competence of shift foremen in performing technical and technological operations with further training of such performers such as drillers, shot firers, and shaft miners. It is important to explain to the employees the consequences of the realized risks in case of incorrect performance of standard and non-standard operations. Currently, we work on a task on the rational use of collective protective equipment, following the example of Western countries such as control over timely maintenance, replacement of spare parts, etc.

 Dmitry Kondrashin, Project Director of DuPont Sustainable Solutions (the international partner of Kazakhmys Group on OHS) noted that Nurkazgan Mine demonstrates positive dynamics in the quality of the risk management system. Herewith the level of employee involvement has increased. Today, the main task for the Group's enterprises is to ensure the disciplined implementation of OHS rules. Only strict adherence to locally implemented standards and dedicated work on safety management will help in solving these problems.

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