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Smaller Mines Encouraged to Be Merged
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The Chinese government will encourage mergers and acquisitions (M&As) by key state-owned coal mines to small coal mines, in an effort to integrate production capacity, Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said at a video conference yesterday.

Local governments and coal industry regulators are required to map out favorable policies and measures for the M&As. They must also continue to close small, illegal coal mines, Zhao said.

According to statistics, the number of less serious coal mine accidents was down 9.1 percent while the casualties were down 17.9 percent in July from a year earlier. Serious accidents were down 66.7 percent while their casualties also decreased 76.1 percent.
In July, the number of key state-owned coal mine accidents was down 26.3 percent while casualties there were down 38.2 percent year on year. The cost in lives for producing one million tons of coal was 1.485, down 13.3 percent or 0.228 from the same period last year.
However, there are a lot of problems with coal mine safety, Zhao said. Coal mines saw a rise in accidents resulting from floods, gas explosions and mine roof collapses, he added.

Unsafe coal mines with an annual production capacity of less than 30,000 tons have to be shut down immediately, according to Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety. China is expected to close another 1,000 coal mines by the end of the year, bringing the total number to over 10,000 recently closed mines.

Li has admitted it will be tough to reduce the number of small coal mines to the targeted 10,000 by 2010. Of the nearly 4,000 mines currently being built or expanded, four in five have an annual output of less than 30,000 tons, he said.

There are an estimated 24,000 small mines in the country. Such mines account for one-third of national coal production but two-thirds of casualties from accidents.

( August 7, 2007)

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