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Shanxi to Close Low-output Coal Mines

China's leading coal producing province of Shanxi has vowed to close all of its small coal mines with annual production below 90,000 tons by the end of this year.
Sources from the provincial government said Shanxi is taking measures to control and regulate its coal industry so as to guarantee safety at the coal mines.
Under the plan, the province will eventually limit the total number of coal mines to about 3,000 and will no longer approve new mines that produce less than 300,000 tons a year.
The leading coal production province is paying more attention to safety. The death rate per million tons in Shanxi's coal mines has dropped to a record low of 0.98 in 2004. But the province still saw 184 coal mine accidents throughout the year, causing the deaths of 485 people.
Last year, Shanxi Province reformed the coal excavation methods in its 2,256 coal mines, about 53.8 percent of the province's total coal mines.
In addition, a system to monitor and control gas was established last year and involved 3,418 mines, accounting for 86 percent of the total in the province. The province also closed 97 small coal mines where frequent accidents were reported.
The reform helped the province produce 493 million tons of coal in 2004 and made the proportion of small coal mines among the total drop from 76.7 percent to the current 39.1 percent, while production efficiency was raised.
Instead of rashly expanding output, Shanxi aims to integrate its coal resources and further optimize its mining industry in the coming three years by limiting its annual coal production to 600 million tons.
The province plans to consolidate its 6,500 mines into 50 large mines with annual outputs of 900,000 tons each and 500 medium-sized mines with outputs of 300,000 to 900,000 tons each by the year 2007, according to the provincial government.

(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2005)

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