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Coal Mines Fail to Apply for Safety Licenses

The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said Monday that, by the end of July, one in five of the country's 25,927 coal mines had not applied for production safety licenses, and over 11,000 of those that had have not been granted them.


The 5,881 coal mines that have not applied are all township or private collieries with poor safety conditions, according to the SAWS, and their owners have not applied because they know they will not qualify.


The SAWS said they would be ordered to stop production and improve safety conditions before being either licensed or ordered to close down.


Time limits for improvements vary between provinces with some, including Jiangxi and Shanxi, set for the end of this year.


An SAWS official said coal supplies will not be affected if the collieries yet to apply are shut down, since most have halted or reduced output since last year and only produced 40 million tons in a period of six months.


According to the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, at the end of June China had a stockpile of 23 million tons of coal for electricity and could back power factories for 15 to 17 days, a year-on-year increase of six days. The social stockpile was 120 million tons, an increase of 16.2 percent on the beginning of 2005.


Last year, more than 6,000 people lost their lives in coal mine accidents and the government has vowed to promote work safety in them, including the production safety licensing scheme.


The SAWS said that, of the 152,641 facilities that needed to apply for the licenses, only 86,584 have done so: 20,046 coal mines, 48,226 other mines, 12,358 hazardous chemical plants and 5,954 firecracker factories.


It granted 28,040 licenses: 8,315 to coal mines, 15,880 to other mines, 2,893 to hazardous chemical plants and 952 to firecracker factories.


According to work safety license regulations, mines, construction enterprises, hazardous chemical plants, firecracker makers and civil demolition equipment factories cannot operate without a production safety license.


(China.org.cn by Yuan Fang August 3, 2005)

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