China closes nearly 2,000 mines in safety drive
Updated: 2005-11-22 15:37
China has closed nearly 2,000 coal mines since August in a bid
to cut the death toll in the country's mining industry, the Xinhua news
agency reported on Tuesday.
Work has been suspended at around 13,000 mines, the report said, quoting
safety watchdog the National Bureau of Production Safety Supervision and
Explosions, mine collapses and other accidents killed over 6,000 miners last
year, and Beijing launched the latest in a series of safety crackdowns after
flooding at a mine in southern Guangdong province claimed 123 lives in August.
The government has also ordered officials to withdraw all investment from
mines to prevent collusion with owners, and demanded that a manager accompany
miners underground on every shift to look for potential dangers.
But coal provides around three-quarters of China's electricity, and high
prices and booming demand mean many mine owners with an eye on profits ignore
regulations, push production beyond safe capacity or re-open illegally after
State media said in August the country had around 24,000 mines, meaning over
half are now out of operation.
The shutdowns are unlikely to have much impact on output however, because
thousands of mines in the massive, fragmented industry produce less than 45,000
tons a year and many of the most dangerous mines are among the smallest.
Xinhua also reported that over 9,000 mines had been closed since January.