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Beijing plans to shut down non-coal mines
By Mu Zi (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-14 21:51

Beijing may shut down a large portion of its small mines by the end of 2007.

The move would not apply to coal mines but other operations such as gold, copper and iron digs, said the Beijing Municipal Administration of Work Safety.

The proposed move is the continuation of a three-year restructuring of the industry during which more than 1,100 mines in the city have been shut down since 2001.

There were 1,606 non-coal mines scattered on the outskirts of Beijing in 2001, but now, only 435 remain with qualified work safety conditions, said Ding Zhenkuan, vice-director of the administration, during a conference held last week in Beijing.

Ding said Beijing is not a suitable locale for such mines in terms of resources, ecology and the city's economic development strategy.

At the same time, the administration plans to work with other related government departments to shut down all clay-brick operations by the end of this year and plans to close the city's only gold mine -- in the northeastern outskirts -- by the end of next year, according to sources with the administration.

In April, hydrogen cyanide gas leaked from the gold mine, killing three people.

Other non-coal mines that will probably be shut down by 2007 include iron mines whose annual production is under 100,000 tons and lime mines with production capacity below 50,000 tons annually.

Small-scale copper mines and manganese mines may also be shut down in the next three years, sources said.

As to the coal mine sector, the city is planning to close all its township-owned coal mines by 2010, according to a local economic development programme.

Currently, Beijing has 213 coal mines with a combined annual output of 16 million tons. Half of the production is from township collieries.

However, coal mine accidents have been reported from time to time in Beijing due to a complicated geological structure that adds to the difficulties and dangers of mining.

Statistics provided by the work safety administration show that 19 coal mine accidents leading to 31 deaths were reported by November 8.

Beijing's coal industry accounts for less than 1 per cent of local gross domestic product (GDP), but the death toll from the industry accounts for more than one quarter of work-related causalities reported in Beijing.

According to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, the city's coal output will probably be reduced to 9 million tons by the end of 2007. By then the number of township coal mines would be cut down to 60, or one-third of the current figure.

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