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Deaths spur coal mine inspections

By Xu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-21 07:12

Widespread checks focusing on worker safety to last through year

The work safety watchdog will launch a widespread safety check of coal mines nationwide next month, a move prompted by three coal mine accidents that killed 32 miners this year.

The campaign, which will last until the end of the year, will look for safety hazards and focus on accident prevention, Huang Yuzhi, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said at a work conference on Monday.

The most recent fatal incident, a gas explosion at Zubao Coal Mine in Lianyuan, Hunan province, killed 10 miners on Feb 14. Fatal incidents that together killed 22 occurred in Dengfeng, Henan province, on Jan 4, and in Shuozhou, Shanxi province, on Jan 17.

Huang said the three accidents exposed the lack of legal awareness among coal mine owners, given that two of the mines were found to have been operating in prohibited areas.

"They were behaviors that showed contempt for the law. They prefer coal to the law and money to lives," he said.

The campaign will be led by provincial coal mine safety departments and divided into two phases. In the first phase, the authorities will assess the safety situation of all coal mines and identify problems. In the second phase, the authorities will check on how the problems have been rectified.

The provincial watchdogs are also expected to formulate a report on each coal mine regarding ways to improve their work safety situation and solve existing problems, Huang said.

Production would be suspended at coal mines that fail the work safety standards or are deemed to pose safety hazards, he said.

Yang Huanning, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, has warned of possible risks associated with the extreme weather conditions that many parts of the country are seeing this week.

He also said higher prices for resources like coal, steel and nonferrous metals have spurred coal mines to produce beyond their designed capacity.

In one extreme case, a coal mine in Shanxi province, with a yearly designed capacity of 900,000 metric tons, produced 5.2 million tons of coal last year, according to Huang.

China saw 11 accidents from accumulations of flammable gas at coal mines since the fourth quarter of last year, and 140 people were killed in those incidents, according to the work safety watchdog.

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