MAC: Mines and Communities

China set to dynamite 7,000 unsafe coalmines

Published by MAC on 2005-09-05

China set to dynamite 7,000 unsafe coalmines

South East Asian Occupational Health and Safety News

September 5 2005

BEIJING: China is trying to close about ,7000 of its smaller and more dangerous coalmines and sever collusive ties between mine owners and local officials, after 123 miners were killed in Guangdong province last month.

Authorities have started dynamiting underground shafts and tunnels in the mines they have ordered to close, aware that many small mines reopened after previous crackdowns. China has about 6,000 mining deaths a year, mostly in small operations run by local governments and businessmen. Up to the middle of last month, mine accidents had killed 3,400 people this year.

The State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said last week 1,324 unsafe mines had been ordered to close, and the list would reach about 7,000 out of the 24,000 coalmines in the country. Officials said this would not have a great impact on China’s coal output, about 2.1 billion tonnes a year, because the mines were small. But the directive could throw hundreds of thousands of miners out of work because the small mines are usually highly labour intensive. Last week the government ordered officials at all levels to pull out of any investment in coalmines by September 22 or face dismissal.

Recovery efforts end for 123 trapped pitmen

MEIZHOU: Guangdong authorities last week officially abandoned efforts to find the bodies of miners trapped in the flooded Daxing Colliery. Zeng Haiying, spokesman for the Meizhou government, said all 123 miners were now considered dead.

The recovery operation was stopped due to fears of further accidents after the discovery of serious subsidence in the mine, believed to have been caused by 23 days’ pumping of floodwater from the shafts, a rescue centre spokesman said. Rescue officials have recovered six bodies.

Zeng Haiying, a spokesperson for the Meizhou government, said the process of compensating the relatives of the miners began last week. Although he declined to reveal how much each family would receive, it is understood that payouts of 200,000 yuan have been agreed.

Safety review of high-risk sectors in Guangdong

GUANGZHOU: Guangdong authorities have ordered an urgent five-day review of safety work in high-risk industries, especially coal mines, in 21 cities across the province. The Guangdong Industry and Commerce Bureau ordered 10 working groups to examine safety at factories and mines.

They will also review local inspectors’ safety reports to ensure accuracy. The groups will also check public venues such as internet cafes and nightclubs, and even examine the conditions at food and chemical factories.

The urgent review came after the disastrous flooding of the Daxing Colliery in Meizhou last month.

New coal disaster prompts knee-jerk state reactions without addressing basic problems, says CLB

The key to eliminating the appalling accident and fatality rates at Chinese coal mines is to enforce the law, and empower workers in monitoring their own conditions says China Labour Bulletin - not to add new regulations. After another major tragedy, unlicensed mineowners are incensed at what they claim is brutal government action aimed at closing down their pits.

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