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Sharp Drop Predicted in Shanxi Coal Production

Coal output in North China's Shanxi Province is predicted to fall by more than 100 million tons in 2006 because of the closure of unsafe and illegal collieries.

Production will also be hit next year as Shanxi is taking measures to control and regulate its coal industry, trying to guarantee work safety and to safeguard future resources, said sources from Shanxi Coal Industry Bureau on Tuesday.

About 1,200 registered collieries in the province around 30 percent of the total number of sites will be written off and shut down by the end of next June, insiders said.

It will cause coal production in the province, which is the major coal production base of the nation, to drop by 80 million tons next year, said a Xinhua News Agency report yesterday.

The province saw 184 coal mine accidents throughout last year, killing 485 people.

The authorities will shut down another 3,100 illegal excavation pits to curb excessive exploration, which involves the production of 30 million tons, said the report.

There will also be curbs on over-production that surpasses capacity at legal sites, which will reduce production by a further another 10 million tons.

The number of collieries remaining open by the end of next year is expected to be no more than 2,000, according to Wang Shouzhen, director of the bureau.

There is no specific data on the province' coal production this year, but experts believe that it will not surpass 500 million tons.

Latest statistics from the State Administration of Work Safety indicated that the coal output of China reached 1.86 billion tons by December 11, compared to 1.95 billion last year.

But the production decrease in Shanxi will be good for the healthy development of coal mine industry and optimizing natural resources as a whole, said Zhu Deren, vice-chairman of the China Association of Coal Industry.

(China Daily December 15, 2005)

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