AccidentImage Source: SteelGuru

Indonesian Smelter Tragedy Unveils Grief


An explosion at PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel in Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park resulted in 18 fatalities and 41 injuries. Investigations point to a furnace repair mishap, sparking concerns over safety negligence. Union and NGO condemnation highlights compromised safety standards, emphasizing the need for accountability and improved protocols in global supply chains.


A devastating explosion at PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel (ITSS) within Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park (IMIP) has led to an immense loss of lives, with 18 workers tragically killed and 41 others sustaining injuries. The sprawling industrial complex, known for its significant nickel pig iron and stainless steel production, employs a vast workforce of 28,500 individuals.

Initial investigations into the calamitous incident have revealed that the explosion occurred during furnace repairs, exacerbated by a leak combined with the presence of oxygen tanks. Eleven trade unions and various NGOs, including IndustriALL's SPN affiliate, have strongly criticized ITSS for alleged negligence. They highlight the necessity of shutting down furnaces before maintenance and emphasize the compromised safety protocols in the pursuit of productivity.

Iwan Kusmawan, chair of the IndustriALL Indonesia Council, has fervently advocated for a thorough investigation against ITSS. He demands fair compensation for the affected individuals and urges substantial improvements in safety standards. Kusmawan also stresses the indispensable involvement of unions in bolstering safety measures and vehemently opposes any intimidation faced by workers reporting accidents.

Expressing heartfelt condolences, Atle Høie, IndustriALL's general secretary, pledged unwavering support to Indonesian mining affiliates. He underscored the essential accountability of multinational companies and urged a paradigm shift, prioritizing workers' safety over profit within global supply chains.

Chief of Central Sulawesi Police, Agus Nugroho, confirmed ongoing investigations into the smelter furnace explosion. The investigation aims to identify the responsible parties and uncover potential deviations from standard operating procedures (SOP) that may have contributed to the tragedy. Initial reports indicated 13 fatalities, including both local and Chinese workers, alongside over 40 workers suffering injuries, many of them severe.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo voiced grave concerns following the ITSS incident and a subsequent fire at Gunbuster Nickel Industri (GNI). He stressed the necessity of rigorous safety inspections in smelting and mining facilities. The president's emphasis on prioritizing safety in smelting operations and intensifying inspections signals a crucial call to action to prevent future calamities in the industry.


The tragic incidents at ITSS and GNI highlight the pressing need for comprehensive safety measures in Indonesia's smelting and mining sectors. Union advocacy for accountability, coupled with governmental calls for stringent inspections, underscores the imperative of prioritizing workers' safety over productivity in industrial operations.

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