Regulations in Shanxi
Province, which came into force at the end of last year,
increased compensation levels for mining deaths to almost four
times the Chinese mainland’s average.
Families of miners killed while working in the
northern province now receive no less than 200,000 yuan (US$24,000)
each, up from an average of 10,000-50,000 yuan
Survivors of miners killed in two colliery
accidents have benefited from the change so far.
The families of 33 miners who died in Yuxian County
on December 9 have received a total of 6.6 million yuan, while
those of 13 victims of a colliery fire in Xiangning County on
December 22 have also been compensated under the new terms.
Some still say that the increased compensation
levels are nothing compared to the profits made by private coal
mine owners. Since last year, the price of coal has doubled due to
strong domestic demand, allowing the mining industry to increase
The regulations’ supporters say higher compensation
will help ease the troubles of victims’ families and should also
motivate mine owners to reduce the likelihood of accidents by using
An official from a coal mine safety supervision
agency said the previous lower levels of compensation had no
deterrent effect for mine owners, being insignificant compared to
their increasing returns.
There has been under-investment in safety equipment
of an estimated 13.8 billion yuan (US$1.66 billion), according to
Shanxi’s provincial government.
The regulations stipulate that any colliery in
which more than three people die in one accident will have their
mining license withdrawn.
In addition, the provincial government is exploring
market reforms that would encourage mine owners to pay attention to
long-term benefits rather than short-term output alone. This should
encourage them to invest in safety equipment and practices.
It is also encouraging larger mining groups to
purchase or combine badly managed smaller mines and to strengthen
workplace safety in all of them.
(China.org.cn by Wang Zhiyong, February 11,