Home>News Center>China

China tries to stem coal mine disasters
Updated: 2005-04-05 14:54

Mine accidents in coal-hungry China killed 1,113 people in the first three months of the year, the government said on Tuesday as it laid out a new plan to try to halt the carnage in the world's deadliest mining industry.

The figure represented a 20.2 percent jump in the number of fatalities from the same period last year, the State Administration of Work Safety said.

Rescuers walks out of a coal pit in Guiyang county, Hunan province April 3, 2005. A shaft flooding on Friday in the coal mine has trapped 17 miners underground and rescue operations are underway. [newsphoto]
The biggest problem has been enforcing the innumerable regulations designed to keep the industry's more than 25,000 mines safe, said Li Yizhong, minister of the administration.

"The most fundamental reason for these kinds of mining disasters is that supervision and administration are not very strong, and the laws are not strictly enforced," Li told a news conference.

Last year, more than 6,000 miners were killed in explosions, floods and other underground disasters in China, and Premier Wen Jiabao has pledged to spend 3 billion yuan ($362.5 million) to improve mine safety.

Funding for safety has been a problem and the administration planned to raise the bar, Li said. Mine enterprises were required to put aside two to 10 yuan ($0.24-$1.21) for safety measures per ton of coal produced, he said.

"We are preparing to issue a supplementary document to exceed that amount according to the situation," Li said.

China produced 1.95 billion tons of coal last year but official media say it can safely mine only half that rate. The death rate in Chinese mines is 100 times that of pits in the United States.


The administration also pledged to arrest mine operators running illegal pits and supported high levels of compensation for families of victims as a deterrent.

"We are cracking down on all kinds of illegal mining operations, and rectifying mines that failed to meet work safety standards," Li said.

"Increasing the level of compensation is increasing the cost of accidents," he said, adding he hoped the high cost would make mine operators realize that paying for better safety would be cheaper.

Some areas have recently put the level of compensation paid to families at 11-15 years worth of victims' salary.

The government has had trouble shutting down unsafe mines, especially amid a nationwide shortage of coal, which is the main source of energy in power-hungry China.

Zhao Tiechui, deputy head of the work safety administration, denied that China's policy of reliance on coal was part of the problem, even though others in the government have admitted that China's thirst for coal was causing mine operators to keep unsafe mines open and push beyond safe production capacities.

"Mine disasters and China's energy policy are not directly related," he said, pointing the finger at mining conditions and the depth of mine shafts in China.

The State Administration of Work Safety was recently elevated to ministry status in a sign of the government's commitment to ending chronic safety lapses.

  Today's Top News     Top China News

Border row on agenda for Wen's India visit



Landmark KMT visit garners wide support



Drug crime rise sparks calls for crackdown



US may curb China clothing imports



Yasukuni visit sparks criticism in Taiwan



Brave teacher touches hearts after car crash


  US may curb China clothing imports
  26m still in poverty despite progress
  Taiwan fishing boat on fire, rescued
  Beijing's police stations on blacklist
  Shandong's coastlines better protected
  Mountaineers die after avalanche
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Gov't urges increased mine safety spending
Mine shaft collapses, trapping 11 in Shanxi
Resource exhaustion manaces mines
China earmarks 3b yuan to improve coal mine safety
Owners forced to fund mine safety upgrading
Vice-governor loses job for mine accident
Revision of law to upgrade mine safety
  News Talk  
  It is time to prepare for Beijing - 2008