CHINA / National

China vows to intensify coal mine safety
Updated: 2006-04-05 16:23

The Chinese government has announced it will shut down all small coal mines by the end of 2007, as it tries to encourage smaller mines to merge with larger, more safety-conscious ones, state media reported Wednesday.

All mines with an annual production capacity under 30,000 tons (27,215 metric tons) will be closed, the China Daily newspaper said.

"Large firms usually pay more attention to work safety," the paper paraphrased Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, as saying as he announced the new rule on Monday.

In the first three months of 2006, nine coal mine accidents caused the deaths of 161 workers, the administration said in a report on its Web site dated Monday. The death toll was 61 percent lower than the same period last year, when 413 workers died, it said.

The government says small mines produce 38 percent of the country's total coal output but are responsible for three-quarters of all deaths.