MAC: Mines and Communities

China Update: February 2006

Published by MAC on 2006-02-15

China Update: February 2006

6th February 2006

Miners in Shanxi province have suffered yet another coal mine disaster. This followed immediately on an announcement that nearly 5,000 "illegal" mines had been closed in the province over the past six months. Yet, last week's fatalties occurred at a state-owned mine, confirming the sorry trends revealed last month (see:

Government figures now show that around 700 million Chinese - more than half the entire population, working for no less than 16 million enterprises - may now be suffering from occupational illness, while the age of victims is getting younger.

23 miners died and 53 sickened in Shanxi state-owned coal mine

by Xinhua News Agency, Agence France-Presse

2nd February 2006

Twenty-three miners were killed and 53 others sickened by carbon monoxide at a gas explosion in a state-owned coal mine in Shanxi Province in northern China.

A total of 697 miners were working in the pit when the blast went off at the Sihe Coal Mine under the state-owned Jincheng Mining Group on the evening of 1 February.

Citing an official of the provincial coal mine safety supervision bureau, a Xinhua report said search and rescue work at the mine had ended on the morning of 2 February. The sickened miners were hospitalized and most of them suffered no fatal injury, except for one miner who was seriously poisoned by carbon monoxide.

A preliminary investigation showed that the explosion occurred at an airtight area in the pit. Sihe Coal Mine, one of the largest collieries in the coal-rich Shanxi Province, currently produces 10.8 million tons of coal per year.

China's coal mining industry is the most dangerous in the world, as mine owners and local government officials always ignore safety standards in search of quick profits. Coal accounts for 70 percent of the country's energy production and needs, according to government statistics.

Last month, the State Administration of Work Safety reported that 5,986 coal miners died in 2005.

4,876 illegal mines in Shanxi closed

by Xinhua News Agency, Beijing News

1st February 2006

Following a central government’s nation-wide order issued in August last year, a total of 4,876 illegal mines have been closed in Shanxi and 1,268 mining officials in the province have been “handled with administrative procedures”.

A central government investigation team found that 952 government officials in the province had personal investments in coal mine operations, involving a total of 156 million yuan of investments. Among those officials, 947 have withdrawn their personal investments in coal mine businesses, amounting to 151 million yuan of investments, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Citing statistics from the State Administration of Work Safety, the report said more than 70 percent of major coal mine accidents in the province occurred in illegal mines in recent years.

Shanxi is a major coal-producing province in China. It produced 543 million tonnes of coal in 2005 and 80 percent of which were exported to other provinces in the country. Official statistics showed that 179 coal mine accidents happened in Shanxi in 2005, killing a total of 468 people.

700 million people might suffer from occupational illnesses, government says

by Legal Daily

23rd January 2006

The General Administration of Work Safety (GAWS) has recently said that 700 million people in China are possibly suffering from occupational illnesses, according to Legal Daily.

During a seminar held by the GAWS on 20 January in Beijing, safety officials said as many as 700 million people might be suffering from occupational illnesses, involving 16 million enterprises. There is a trend for the number to increase. Even worse is that the victims' age is getting younger and the victims are mostly poor.

In view of these huge figures, the GAWS said more regulations and rules on occupational illnesses will be made this year.

With thanks to China Labour Bulletin (Hong Kong) for these updates.

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