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China releases list of unsafe coal mines
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-23 06:19

In a bid to tighten controls in the deadliest mining industry, a list of 580 coal mines whose certificates have been cancelled for failing to meet safety standards was released yesterday.

It is the first batch of unqualified coal mines named in the list by the National Development and Reform Commission.

These unqualified collieries are mainly in 10 provinces and autonomous regions, including Guangdong, Liaoning, Hebei, Henan, Hubei and Guizhou, said the commission on its website.

Provincial departments in charge of issuing coal mine production certificates are also required to report more unqualified collieries to the commission on December 5 this year and January 10 of next year, it said.

On Sunday, a committee for safe production under the State Council urged local governments to go all out to streamline the operation of mines and close unqualified ones.

China has shut down 1,933 unqualified coal mines and 9,067 illegal collieries this year in efforts to cut the death toll in the mining industry, according to the State Administration of Work Safety, the nation's top work safety watchdog.

Since the start of this year, work has been suspended at 12,990 mines, 4,672 of which passed safety checks after correcting the problem, said an administration official yesterday.

"All those that fail to pass government assessments at the end of the year will be closed for good," said the official.

The shutdowns are unlikely to have much impact on output, however, because most of the coal mines were small ones, the official added.

Gas explosions, floods, mine collapses and other accidents kill over 6,000 miners each year in China.

The latest gas explosion occurred on November 11 at a mine run by the Bayinsai Coal Tar Co Ltd in Wuhai, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, killing 16 miners and wounding three others. The mine lacked the required safety licence, reports said.

In a nationwide campaign, the government has ordered officials to withdraw all their own investment from coal mines to prevent collusion with owners. It also demanded that a manager accompany miners underground on every shift to look for potential dangers, reports said.

In Sichuan Province, for example, 58 officials were punished for taking bribes worth more than 8 million yuan (US$990,000), reported Xinhua.

But there is still a long way to go in drastically improving China's mining safety record.

"We cannot expect to fundamentally improve the work safety record in China's coal mines within a short period of time," said Ma Piliang, a researcher with the China Coal Research Institute.

(China Daily 11/23/2005 page2)

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