In a bid to better equip large-scale coal mines to improve
safety and ensure continuity of fuel supplies a national energy
program has been unveiled.
The National Development and Reform Commission said 13
designated national production bases are being planned for coal
rich autonomous regions and provinces such as Shanxi, Shaanxi and Inner Mongolia.
The production capacities of the areas, which have about 500
mines, are expected to reach 1.3 billion tons in the future. This
is nearly 60 percent of China's total production last year.
"The government aims to ensure some of the bases each produce at
least 100 million tons every year to safeguard China's energy
supply," said the commission's spokesman when announcing the
The bases include the Shenfu-Dongsheng coal zone which is
located along the boundary between Shaanxi Province and the Inner
Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China. It became China's first
100-million-ton coal production base last year.
Huang Shengchu, president of the China Coal Information
Institute, told China Daily yesterday that the country
faces demanding challenges in streamlining its coal industry and
closing down small and potentially dangerous mines. "The measures
for setting up large-scale bases will help relieve the pressure,"
He said the program aimed to improve the technical standards of
the mines and their efficiency in utilizing resources.
Foreign investors, he suggested, especially multinationals,
should be allowed to enter the coal mining industry to help improve
mining safety in the country.
"At least one or two bases out of the national resource should
be open to overseas investors," he added.
He observed that foreign mining companies were well qualified in
safety management and this would help reduce the number of
accidents. "We can also gather some experience in co-operatively
mining coal with other resource-rich countries," added Huang.
Zhao Tiechui, vice-administrator of the State Administration of
Work Safety, recently warned of excessive coal production in
China would be able to produce 2.75 billion tons of coal
annually after the new facilities are operational in the next
few years. In 2005 approximately 2.15 billion tons of coal was
mined which met the country's demands.
Previous forecasts by a team in the administration predicted
China's coal demand would be between 2.5-2.6 billion tons in 2010
due to the country's massive energy-saving campaign.
Coal accounted for 76 percent of China's energy use in 2005.
According to the team that level is likely to rise to 80 percent
"The current supply-demand situation has left us enough room to
shut down poorly-equipped small coal mines," said Zhao.
In the middle of 2005 China had 24,000 small coal mines with
annual production capacities ranging from 10,000-30,000 tons. They
account for 70 percent of the total number of coal mines in the
As part of the safety campaign China plans to shut down 12,900
small pits before 2007.
(China Daily May 8, 2006)