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Shanxi Closes Thousands of Mines
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North China's Shanxi Province, a major coal producer of the country, has closed 4,876 illegal coal mines, as part of its efforts to ensure safety in coal production.

More than 1,200 people involved in illegal mining have been punished, according to the provincial government.

The province has also found that 952 government workers and officials of state-owned enterprises hold shares valued at 156 million yuan (US$19 million) in local coal mines.

After the central government ordered officials to withdraw their investment in coal mines across the country, 947 of them in Shanxi have cut their relations with coal mines and taken back 151million yuan (US$18.6 million) of investment.

Shanxi turned out 543 million tons of raw coal in 2005, 10 percent up from the previous year.

However, the province suffered 179 fatal coal mine accidents in the same year, which killed 468 miners.

(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2006)

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