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All Small Coal Mines to Be Closed by 2007: Official
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China will close all small coal mines with annual production capacity under 30,000 tons by the end of 2007, the national coal mine safety authority said.

At a video-conference on work safety held Monday, Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said China will step up rectification of the coal mining sector to improve work safety.

A relevant notice on the rectification has been circulated to local governments, said Zhao, adding that the rectification aims to encourage large coal mining firms to merge with smaller ones as giant ones usually pay more attention to work safety.

The country will also complete its program to overhaul small-sized coal mines which are more vulnerable to work safety accidents, said Zhao.

According to the notice, those coal mines without safe production conditions must be shut down immediately and exhausted coal mines with mature production licenses will be excluded from the rectification and integration drive, said the notice.

Zhao urged the local governments to carry out the coal mine rectification step by step, so as to form a group of large coal mine producers in the country.

After the coal mine resources integration, the annual coal production capacity for China's major coal firms of Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region should be no less than 300,000 tons each.

While the annual production capacity for middle-scale coal mines in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Beijing should be no less than 150,000 tons each.

China is making unprecedented efforts to address the severe safety concerns in its collieries.  A total of 3,341 coal mine accidents were reported in China last year with a year-on-year decrease rate of 8.2 percent, killing 5,986 people, a little less than the previous year.

(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2006)

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