China's streamlining efforts in the coal mining industry will
have a far-reaching impact on the sector, making it more socially
and ecologically friendly.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released
its outline for the sector through 2010, promising to encourage
establishment of super-large conglomerates while reducing the
number of small mines.
The sector has provided two-thirds of the energy China consumes,
and the NDRC suggested a goal for total output by 2010. It will be
easier for China's mining sector to meet the target with the
formation of more super-large mining groups.
This will also help control energy consumption, which the
government has vowed to reduce.
The mining industry does not only concern energy output.
It kills thousands of workers every year and poses an ecological
danger. Its low efficiency has wasted resources and poor technology
has led to mine cave-ins.
Last year, the overall mining death rate per million tons of
coal was 2.04. But the difference in the death rates between the
core mining enterprises and the shabby, loosely managed small mines
Large mining enterprises generally have better management and
longer-term development goals. Small mines are more likely to focus
on short-term profits and ignore safety investments. Their goal is
to keep production rolling.
The level of technology is also crucial for production safety,
with the gap obvious between large and small mines. The NDRC's
streamlining will lead to more large enterprises with higher
technological levels, which can also be expected to reduce the
number of accidents and deaths.
The use of advanced technology can also improve mining
efficiency and reduce environmental damage. The reality in China is
that the smaller the mining enterprise, the lower its efficiency
and the poorer its environmental consciousness.
Admittedly, not all small mines are substandard. But it is
better to encourage those which cannot meet safety standards as
well as ecological and technical standards to merge with the
(China Daily January 24, 2007)