MAC: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2006-05-25

China Update

25th May 2006

A mine disaster on May 18th appears to have claimed the lives of 57 workers - making it the worst this year.

Meanwhile the World Bank announces new investment in Chinese "clean coal" and alternative power generation projects.

Shanxi mine managers detained after 57 feared trapped in flooded mine


25th May 2006

Nine managers of a coal mine in Shanxi province have been detained for trying to conceal the scale of a flood in the mine and the number of miners trapped underground, in what the top work safety official in China described as "the worst disaster" this year.

The mine management and local safety officials first reported that only five miners were trapped when the accident happened on the evening of 18 May at Xinjing Coal Mine in Zuoyun County, northern Shanxi. They said 145 miners were working underground when the accident took place and 101 miners managed to escape.

But rescuers and work safety officials later discovered on the morning of 20 May that the number of miners trapped in the mine was 44.

Later on the same day after the officials interviewed the miners' families, they found out that the number might be as high as 57. Director of State Administration of Work Safety Li Yizhong said the accident was the "worst mine disaster" this year, and added that the attempts by the mine owners and managers to cover up the scale of the accident would have "a very bad effect." Li made the comments after traveling to Zuoyun County together with an investigation team two days after the accident occurred.Xinhua reported that nine managers of the mine had been detained by the police, but the mine owner had fled.

The official news agency also reported that some mine managers had hired taxis to transfer some miners' families to a remote area in nearby Inner Mongolia to prevent them from starting riots and speaking to the press.

Xinhua said the Xinjing Coal Mine is a legal private coal mine, with a licensed annual output of 90,000 tonnes, while the South China Morning Post reported that the mining company's actual output was more than 10 times that level.

Sources: South China Morning Post (22 May 2006), Xinhua News Agency (21 May 2006), Mingpao (22 May 2006)

With thanks to China Labour Bulletin, Hong Kong

World Bank's IFC to Back China's Clean Coal Plants


25th May 2004

WASHINGTON - The World Bank's private-sector arm is preparing the groundwork to invest in a number of power plants in China, from hydro-electric to clean coal facilities, International Finance Corp. executive vice president Lars Thunell said on Wednesday.

"Given the (energy) configuration they have, I think hydro has been important and will continue to be important. I think clean coal technology is obviously something that is going to be important and I know that we are working on a number of deals in that area," Thunell told Reuters after a trip to China, which is the world's No.2 electricity consumer, ranking only behind the United States.

The IFC has invested about US$2.4 billion in more than 100 projects in China. About a third of the IFC's investment in China has gone into the country's financial sector. It has tripled its investment in China in the past three years and it plans to boost the amount by US$1 billion in the next three.

"There's a tremendous amount of activity going on in all the coastal cities, but I think where the Chinese government wants to open up right now is more in the rural areas and in the western part of China," Thunell added.

Some 500 million Chinese, many in rural areas and some of the more remote parts of the country, live on less than US$2 a day, he said.

During his trip, Thunell signed an agreement to lend US$22 million for three hydro power plants in China's southwestern Yunnan province, which borders Myanmar and Laos.

He also signed a US$45 million loan agreement, accounting for 60 percent of a renewable resource project.

"The other focus they have is, obviously, infrastructure," Thunell said. "They have a tremendous need for power and they are focusing very much on the environmental issues and energy efficiency. They have some goals for increasing energy efficiency significantly."

In addition to energy projects, the IFC explored investments in China's financial services sector. The IFC already has investments in six Chinese banks, most along the affluent coastline region in the East. These projects would be more specialized in nature, ranging from asset management to issuing securities, he said.

Story by Gilbert Le Gras

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