By the end of 2008 China will complete its reforms of the mining
industry to ensure only one company can exploit a mine's resources,
according to a central government statement.
The move is designed to reduce the number of accidents, cut
pollution and improve efficiency in the way mineral resources are
According to a document released by nine ministerial-level
agencies, including the Ministry of Land and Resources, the policy
will be in place for at least three types of mineral resources and
in at least five major mining areas before the end of 2007.
"The whole reshuffle should be finished and exploitation of one
mine by more than one company should be terminated by the end of
next year," the document states.
Data from the Ministry of Land and Resources shows there are
5,345 mining areas with verified reserves nationwide but the number
of mining franchises totals 13,227. A mining area is often
exploited by several enterprises particularly in the coal
"Multiple mining of an area which should be exploited by one
enterprise often leads to pernicious competition and production
beyond capacity. The result is frequent accidents, inefficient use
of resources and pollution of the environment," said a senior
official surnamed Bai with the Ministry of Land and Resources.
Last year China recorded more than 4,800 mine accidents which
claimed more than 7,000 lives. The majority of accidents were in
The 17,000 small collieries nationwide account for one third of
China's total coal production but two thirds of accidents and
related deaths. China plans to shut down 10,000 unqualified small
collieries by 2008.
Chinese mines are also subject to small-scale yet extensive
operations. "The mines have gone down the path of unsustainable
development," said Liu Baojun of the Chinese Academy of
According to the document large enterprises with more advanced
technology, stricter management and better equipment should take
over the smaller mines.
Provincial governments will take responsibility for the changes.
"Areas failing to complete the process of integration in time
should be inspected and closed off to prospecting and mining
franchises," the document says.
The document also ordered the establishment of an environmental
restoration system at all mines and mining waste to be stored and
disposed of in a centralized way.
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2007)