Beijing is to close 34 illegal mines close to Yunju Temple and the Museum of Peking Man Ruins at Zhoukoudian this year.
In addition, the city will shut down 700 mines and 145 sand and stone plants near sources of drinking water for local residents and 126 mines around major scenic spots.
The move aims to reduce pollution, crack down on illegal mining and ensure safety in production, said Wang Dexue, an official in charge of safe production in the country.
According to municipal statistics, there are more than 1,000 illegal mines in the eight suburban districts of Beijing, with a total workforce of 50,000. Eleven workers were killed in three accidents at illegally-run coal mines last year.
Closure of the mines is beneficial to the protection of ancient cultural sites. Yunju Temple, a well-known Buddhist shrine in north China, built in 631 during the Tang Dynasty, houses a total of 14,278 stone tablets inscribed with religious writings by Chinese monks.
The ruins at Zhoukoudian, some 50 km southwest of Beijing, are an important dwelling site of prehistoric man.
( People's Daily March 16, 2002)