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China to Close All Small Coal Mines

China will close all of its small coal mines with an annual production capacity under 30,000 tons by the end of 2007, the national coal mine safety authority said.

At a video conference on work safety held on Monday, Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said China would streamline the coal mining sector to improve work safety.

The move aims to encourage large coal mining firms to merge with smaller ones, as large firms usually pay more attention to work safety, he added.

The overhaul of small coal mines is necessary because they are more vulnerable to accidents, said Zhao.

According to a notice from the administration, those coal mines without safe production conditions must be shut down immediately.

After the integration of the coal mines, the annual coal production capacity for coal firms in Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, should be no less than 300,000 tons each.

While the annual production capacity for middle-scale coal mines in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Beijing should be no less than 150,000 tons each.

A total of 3,341 coal mine accidents were reported in China last year, killing 5,986 people, fewer than the previous year.

(China Daily April 5, 2006)

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