North China's Shanxi Province, a leading coal producer of China, has stepped up its efforts in recent years to improve conditions at coal mines to guarantee production safety.
Vice Governor Jin Shanzhong said that the provincial government had made it clear that no coal mines with an annual capacity of 300,000 tons and involving technical upgrading projects would be approved in the future.
To guarantee production safety, the province has urged all local coal mines to complete the construction of gas-monitoring systems in the first half of the year. According to plan, a provincial level production safety emergency rescue center will beset up within the year to improve the province's ability to deal with serious accidents.
Statistics show that the province has shut down 6,692 small coal mines and 1,275 non-coal mines, which have no production permits, or are improperly distributed or do not meet the requirements set by the government for safe production over the past six years.
The number of coal mines in the province had dropped to 3,828 by the end of March this year from over 10,000.
Last year, 1,357 people held responsible for coal mine accidents were punished, 92 of whom were brought to court.
Currently, public bidding has been introduced in the transfer of ownership of small non-coal mines in 11 cities in the province. Concerned provincial-level departments are entrusted to give the green light to the establishment, rebuilding and expansion of coal and non-coal mines.
(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2004)