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Shanxi to Use Aerial Camera to Fight Illegal Mining
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North China's coal-rich Shanxi Province will employ an aerial camera in the fight against illegal mining that has resulted in numerous fatal accidents, according to the governor of the province, Yu Youjun.

Yu said the province will use an unmanned aircraft, with camera attached, from January to monitor certain areas including remote mountains.Illegal mines will be immediately shut down once they are identified, he said at a colliery safety conference Wednesday.

Shanxi Province has witnessed five major accidents since late October, four of which occurred at illegal mines.

Rescuers announced on Wednesday that all 34 miners trapped in Sunday's fire at an illegal coal mine in Lingshi had been confirmed dead.

Shanxi started a campaign against illegal mining in 2005 and has shut down more than 5,000 illegal mines, which has led to a drastic drop of both mining accidents and the death toll.

The Shanxi provincial government also said recently in a circular that it would close 900 more coal mines by June 2008 amid concerns over safety, environmental protection and resource conservation.

The measure is aimed at reducing the number of coalmines to 2,500 by 2010 from the current 3,500, the circular said.

Shanxi, whose coal output account for about one third of the country's total, has seen numerous coal mine accidents in recent years. Unsafe small coal mines account for two-thirds of the total fatalities in mining accidents, government figures show.

The national coalmine safety watchdog has called for small mines with an annual output of below 30,000 tons to be shut down by the end of this year. This year, 2,652 small mines will be sealed off and another 2,209 will be shut down next year.

(Xinhua News Agency November 17, 2006)

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