Mine leaders to send substitutes underground

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-21 08:13
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New law requires bosses to go with men into the pits

BEIJING - Managers for a coal mine in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region have excused themselves from going underground with miners, as the State's September regulation required, by promoting seven management assistants as substitutions.

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To raise attention to mining safety, the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety ordered mine leaders to descend below ground and ascend to the surface again along with their miners, or to face fines of up to 80 percent of their annual income.

However, the regulation, which will take effect on Oct 7, apparently will render little impact on mine leaders' money or their personal security in the privately owned Hongshan Chaoyang Coalmining Company in Huanjiang county, Guangxi.

The company handpicked seven people to be promoted to "assistants to managers" and to accompany the miners in compliance with the regulation, Li Jian, one of the company's managers, told China Daily on Monday over the phone.

"No one can tell now if the assistants could or could not be counted as coal mine leaders. The regulation does not clearly state if such senior positions could meet the requirement," he said.

The regulation vaguely stipulates that "leaders of a coal mine" refer to "important people in charge, members of the leadership, and chief and deputy chief engineers of the coal mine."

The Guangxi Bureau of Coal Mine Safety Supervision refused China Daily's interview request on Monday.

Mine leaders to send substitutes underground

The manager Li, who is in charge of production for the company, said he and other managing directors cannot dedicate too much time to stay underground, and the newly promoted assistants could meet those requirements.

"We only chose those whom we deemed eligible and experienced to effectively supervise and ensure safe underground production," he said. "The company has the right to name any person to any post."

Li said all the assistants are aged between 30 and 50, with extensive experience in production technology, resources extracting and machinery.

"If assistants to managers are not senior enough to meet the requirement, the coal mine can promote several more managers committed to the mission. The only issue then will be the decentralization of the company's power," he said.

But Li stressed that the move is just a trial.

"The regulation has yet to become effective. If our move is wrong, we'll correct it," he said.

A related story published on the website of Beijing News had drawn more than 9,700 comments from netizens by Monday, with most of them saying, "the central government's policy has been neutralized by local counter measures".

Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, earlier said that past practice has shown that as long as coal mine leaders go down into the mines with their workers, a considerable chunk of incidents can be avoided.