China's large state-owned coal mines will accelerate steps to merge and restructure local small and medium-sized mines, according to Tuesday's Economic Information Daily.
Zhang Guobao, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), made the remark at a ceremony to signal the start of the production of a new large-scale coal mine belonging to China Coal, the nation's largest coal trader and major coal producer.
Zhang spoke highly of the newly-built Anjialing Coal Mine, located in North China's Shanxi Province, which has a production capacity of 30 million tons of coal each year.
Coal plays a strategic role in China's economic and social development, and the restructuring of small coal mines is an important measure to optimize China's coal industry and to ensure safe production, Zhang said.
China's rising demand for fuel has driven up coal prices as well as some mine owners' lust for profits. Over production has become the way to increase output growth in the coal industry in China, the world's biggest coal consumer and producer.
In response, China plans to regroup its coal mining industry into 13 conglomerates to improve safety and efficiency, as small mines, with less capital and lower production capacity, are more prone to accidents.
(Xinhua News Agency March 22, 2006)