More funds needed to fight coal fires
By Wu Chong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-30 06:00
Experts urged the country yesterday to increase its investment in
extinguishing and preventing coal fires. Such fires lead to serious coal
depletion, pollution and mine explosions.
At least 5 billion yuan (US$625 million) are needed to put out current
spontaneous coal seam fires in 62 coal mines nationwide, coal mine expert Guan
Haiyan said at the three-day International Conference on Coal Fire Research,
which kicked off yesterday in Beijing.
Guan suggested the bulk of the money should be used to renovate current
mining technologies in large coal mines to ensure safety.
"Present methods, such as pouring water into mines and building isolation
walls, always fail to prevent coal fires during the extraction of combustible
seam (or coal layer)," he said. "We need to develop new methods."
He said that in China, the careless closing of small mines and large
mined-out areas is the main cause of coal fires. This occurs when the mine is
not closed properly, and the coal is exposed to the air making it flammable.
Guan and his team are going to work on new mining and coal fire extinguishing
methods that can use less water and stop re-combustion under a Sino-German coal
fire research initiative.
The six-year-long programme was started two years ago in Wuda Coalfield in
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, with designing mining methods with minimal
fire risk as one of the aims.
Wuda Coalfield is the largest inflammable mine in the country, covering an
area of 35 square kilometres.
Coals are inflammable substances, which are easily oxidized once exposed to
air during mining. A belt of spontaneous coal fires extends 720 square
kilometres in northern China, bringing 200 million tons of coal reserve each
Coal fires are always the main reason behind gas explosions, dust explosions,
mine collapses and water leak all of which have resulted in a number of mine
accidents in the country.
(China Daily 11/30/2005 page2)