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China to boost coal bed methane extraction
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China is working on ways to encourage large-scale coal bed methane extraction in efforts to improve coal mine safety, a Chinese official said Thursday.

Zhang Guobao, deputy chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the measures would include higher subsidies for gas extraction.

He was addressing a national conference on prevention and control of gases in coal mines in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi province.

He said the government will implement a policy to subsidize power suppliers who used coal bed methane gas to produce electricity and sell it to power grids.

The State has set the goals of forming the capacity to extract 3.5 billion cu m of coal bed methane and produce 2 billion cu m by 2010.

The National Energy Administration, led by Zhang, will be in charge of drafting and implementing plans for large-scale methane extraction and use in mining areas.

Zhang said China was blessed with 18 mining districts that were each capable of extracting 100 million cu m of the gas annually by 2010.

Coal mine operators will be encouraged to use methane gas as fuel for residents' daily lives and for power generation, said Zhang.

The government has attached great importance to gas extraction and use at coalmines in recent years. A total of 114.4 billion yuan (about $16.82 billion) has been spent on prevention and control of gases in coal mines during the past five years, said Zhang.

The efforts are paying off.

There were 182 gas-triggered accidents at coal mines across China in 2008 resulting in 778 deaths, less than half the 414 accidents and 2,171 deaths in 2005, said Luo Lin, chief of the State Administration of Work Safety.

(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2009)

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