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Shandong Closes 71 Unsafe Coal Mines
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East China's Shandong Province shut down 71 unsafe coal mines, one third of its township-level collieries, in 2005, said an official at the Provincial Coal Safety Supervision Bureau.

The bureau's head Wang Ziqi said that to make further efforts to avoid accidents, the province planned to close another 20 collieries that failed to meet the safety requirements this year.

There are lots of safety concerns in the coal mines with annual production capacity of no more than 90,000 tons in the province, since most of the coal there is excavated by hand, Wang said, adding such mines account for 58 percent of the total number of coal mines in Shandong.

The number of small coal pits has been slashed from nearly 1,000 at the peak period to 105, and their death rate per one million tons of coal has declined by 89.7 percent over the past five years.

Shandong, which produced 131 million tons of coal last year, had one of the finest records of coal mine safety in China. Its death rate per one million tons of coal stands at 0.25, far from the country's average of 2.811.

China has launched a coal mine work safety campaign, including shutting down small coal pits without safe production conditions to address severe safety concerns in its collieries.

Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said earlier this month that China closed down 5,243 small coalmines in 2005.

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2006)

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