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China to Close 4,861 Small Collieries by 2007
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China will shut down 4,861 unsafe small coal mines by the end of 2007 as the government tries to reduce the number of accidents, a senior official in charge of coal mine safety said on Monday.

Of the total, 2,652 mines will be shut down by the end of this year and the remaining 2,209 mines will follow suit in 2007, said Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

Speaking at a national teleconference on coal mine safety, Zhao urged local authorities to finalize the lists of mines to be shutdown, publish the lists in the media and report to the State Council.

China still has 17,000 small coal mines even after mass closures in recent years as authorities try to cut accidents in the coal mining industry.

Small mines account for one-third of China's coal production but cause two-thirds of the deaths in the industry.

The Chinese government aims to reduce the number of small mines to less than 10,000 in the next few years.

According to latest official figures, Chinese coal mines reported 2,900 deaths from 1,824 accidents in the first eight months of the year, down 25.5 percent and 13.6 percent respectively.

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2006)

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