MAC: Mines and Communities

China spends on coalmine safety

Published by MAC on 2005-03-07

China spends on coalmine safety

BBC News

7th March 2005

214 miners died at Sunjiawen in February. China's Premier Wen Jiabao has promised the state is to spend 3bn yuan ($362m; £189m) to "truly make coal mining safe", state media reported. The money will be used to improve safety equipment at state-run mines.

At least 6,000 miners died in China's mines last year, making them the deadliest in the world.

Promoting a gentler society

Mr Wen made the pledge in his speech to the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, stressing the need to improve the lives of poorer Chinese.

He called for "a strong sense of responsibility to the people", and linked the issue of better mine safety to the maintenance of social stability and the building of "a harmonious society", the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Wen has made the need for better treatment of workers and farmers into a major political theme since he became premier two years ago.

China's miners pay for growth

He has sought to promote a caring image by visiting miners, Aids sufferers and flood victims. Meanwhile, central government has increased financial support to farmers and punishments for corrupt rural officials.

China has suffered two major mining disasters in the last four months, most recently in February when 214 miners died in a gas explosion at Sunjiawan in Liaoning province.

Mr Wen chaired a meeting of the State Council to highlight safety after that tragedy, and Liaoning province's vice-governor has been suspended.

However, miners die in smaller-scale accidents almost daily, most often in illegal or under-regulated private mines.

The central State General Administration of Work Safety has stepped up efforts to close unsafe private mines, but strong demand for coal makes them hugely profitable and local officials often collude to keep them open.

Fatalities in Chinese mines accounted for about 80% of coal mining deaths around the world last year.

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