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Township-owned Coal Mines to Be Closed

Beijing will close all township-owned coal mines by 2010, in attempt to reorganize the coal industry and improve safety, according to local economic development program.
Some local township coal mines will be regrouped to form economic entities of moderate scale that can guarantee production safety. In other cases, large industrial firms will be encouraged to take over the coal mines, establishing conglomerates encouraged to set up mines other regions.
Currently, Beijing has 213 coal mines with a combined annual output of 16 million tons. Half of the coal output is generated by townships collieries.
However, coal mine accidents have been reported frequently in Beijing due to complicated geological structure that adds difficulties and danger to mining.
Statistics show that 18 coal mine accidents leading to 30 deaths were reported as of Oct. 7 this year. Beijing's coal industry accounts for less than 1 percent of local GDP, but death toll from the industry accounts for more than 25 percent of work-related causalities reported in Beijing.
Excessive coal mining does not fall in line with the overall development of Beijing, said Chen Huaiwei, a member of the municipal commission of development and reform.
According to the plan, Beijing will focus on the development of modern manufacturing, which includes auto production, the electronics industry, the petrochemical industry, equipment manufacturing and the pharmaceuticals industry.
According to Chen, Beijing's coal output would be reduced to nine million tons by the end of 2007 from the current 16 million tons annually. By then and the number of township coal mines would drop to 60, or one-third of the current figure. 

(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2004)

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