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Over 5,000 Coal Mines to Suspend Production

More than 5,000 small township- and individual-run coal mines in China are ordered to suspend production to be rectified as they lack the required safety production license from concerned departments, Beijing-based People's Daily reported Tuesday.

The production suspension has no great impact on the country's coal supply as the combined output of these coal mines is around 40 million tons in six month-period, the paper said, quoting an official with the State Coal Mine Safety Inspection Bureau.

According to the source, by the end of July, 20,046 of the country's 25,927 coal mines have applied for safety production license, accounting for 77.3 percent of the total.

Last month, Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan vowed to reform the coal industry by establishing large coal groups with better safety equipment, instead of scattered small shafts with poor safety standards.

China's coal industry, which provides 70 percent of the country's energy needs, is enjoying a high-speed production growth while being plagued by rampant accidents. Last year, more than 6,000 miners lost their lives in explosions and other accidents.

In the first half of this year, China reportedly recorded some 2,700 mining fatalities, with the number of major accidents involving up to 29 fatalities more than doubling over the same period in 2004.

As the world largest coal producer and consumer, China's coal consumption is expected to increase by six percent this year to 2.1 billion tons, according to the China Coal Industry Association.

(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2005)

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