Third Session
10th National People's Congress and
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

More Measures Urged to Improve Coal Mine Work Safety

An advisor Thursday urged the Chinese government to establish a state coal industry administrative agency and cross-province coal enterprise groups as part of the measure to improve work safety in coal mines.


The government should also launch a new mechanism to coordinate the input of the central and local governments and enterprises, improve the technical coal mining policy and promote technical advance in coal mines, said Zhang Baoming, a member of the National Committee of the National People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body.


A string of fatal coal mine accidents resulting in heavy casualties have aroused grave concern in China.


The State General Administration of Work Safety report a total of 6,027 people were killed in 3,639 coal mine accidents last year.


Addressing a plenum of the ongoing CPPCC annual session, Zhang, former director of the State Administration of Work Safety, said the situation concerning coal mining safety remained grave as a severe energy strain caused by China's rapid economic growth had prompted coal mines across the country to produce beyond their actual mining capacity, largely neglecting the miners' safety requirements.


Other factors behind the frequent coal mine accidents include poor industrial administration and insufficient supervision over production, technical administration, quality standards and safety requirements of coal mines, he said.


China's state-owned coal mines have a comparatively better safety record than private mines. Zhang revealed that half of China's 25,000 small non-state coal mines did not meet safety standards and fail to invest enough for work safety.


He suggested governments at various levels, departments concerned and enterprises improve their work safety responsibility system and resolutely shut down illegal small coal mines according to law.


The central government has attached great importance to coal mine work safety and Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday the government would spend 3 billion yuan (US$361 million) on "safety technologies upgrading" at state-owned coal mines to "truly make coal mining safer" this year.


"We must have a strong sense of responsibility to the people and truly make coal mining safer," said Wen while reporting his government work in the past year to the country's top legislature, the National People's Congress, at its annual full session in Beijing Saturday morning.


The premier linked the production safety issue with the maintenance of social stability and building of a "harmonious society" in China, which is endorsed by top Chinese leaders.


"At present, we should give top priority to coal mining safety," Wen stressed.


A Beijing-based mining safety expert told Xinhua that he believed the 3-billion-yuan state funds would mainly be used to resolve the problem of coal bed gas, as gas explosion had turned out to be the "top killer" in Chinese coal mines.


Apart from renovating and upgrading gas alarm systems and improving underground ventilation facilities at coal mines, the money might also be spent on research to use coal bed gas as a new energy, said the expert.


(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2005)


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