China has shut down 5,931 small coal mines in the first four
months of the year as it continues efforts to reduce the high
accident rate in the coal mining industry.
Wang Shuhe, deputy director of the State Administration of Coal
Mine Safety (SACMS), said the country has so far closed 10,957
small mines since the beginning of 2005.
The shutdown of small mines and enforcement of tough safety
standards have led to improved safety records in the industry, he
In the first four months of the year, China's small coal mines
reported 763 deaths in 483 accidents, dropping 33.5 percent and
22.3 percent, respectively.
China once had 80,000 small coal mines. Two-thirds of China's
coal mine deaths occurred in small mines, which account for only
one third of the country's coal output.
As in 2005, small coal mines recorded 5.53 deaths for per
million tons of coal production, which is 5.8 times that of major
In a bid to improve the safety records of the country's mining
industry, the Chinese government decided in 2005 to shutdown all
unsafe small coal mines by 2007.
By the end of 2005, over 5,000 small mines had been shutdown,
reducing the total number of small coal mines to 19,828, according
to official figures.
Despite the progress being made, Wang said the safety situation
at small coal mines is still fragile. Most of them still use
primitive methods and each produce less than 30,000 tons of coal
These mines use backward equipment and are poorly managed, with
some of them not being licensed, he said.
Wang urged local authorities to keep up the pressure on small
mines and shutdown all those mines that are not safe, illegal, or
damage the environment and waste resources.
He noted that substantial efforts shall also continue to be made
to promote mergers and acquisitions among small mines and improve
their technological standards.
Meanwhile, the government has recently approved plans to build
13 large coal mining bases in coal-rich Shanxi, Shaanxi and other
Total production of these bases are expected to eventually hit
1.3 billion tons, making up over half of China's estimated coal
output in 2010.
(Xinhua News Agency May 19, 2006)