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Shanxi to Improve Accommodation for Miners

"I never thought my 82-year-old mother would be able to move from a shanty shack into a multi-storey building," said Jiang Wang, who used to work in a mining service company in Datong, a centre for the coal industry in North China's Shanxi Province.

The province has mapped out a long-term blueprint to help a total of 260,000 miners and their families move out of shabby huts and live in new buildings within the next five years, said Yu Youjun, governor of the coal-rich province.

This five-year project will soon make Jiang realize his dream of moving into a new building with his elderly mother. Like many other miners in Shanxi Province, Jiang now lives in a 20-square meter shanty with the other five family members of three generations.

In Datong, about 170,000 miners and their families still live in shabby bungalows built 50 years ago and dotted in many mining areas around the city.

Yu said the project also aims to solve the problem of subsidence in some coal mining areas within three years in order to ensure the accommodation safety of 570,000 people.

The year-by-year exploration of coal in the past 20-plus years has caused the subsidence. Preliminary statistics show that about 48,000 miners are now living in subsiding areas of Datong.

The slums for miners and buildings in danger of collapse also exist in many large coal mining enterprises in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi Province, and other cities like Yangquan in eastern Shanxi.

The house-rebuilding project that will benefit 800,000 miners is to be funded by the provincial and local governments with contributions from the coal mining enterprises and the miners themselves. The country has also pledged to finance the province to address the problem of subsidence in coal mining areas.

Shanxi Province has produced 6.5 billion tons of raw coal, 30 percent of the country's total output, since the country's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, 4.5 billion of which was transported to other provinces. Meanwhile, the export volume of coal from Shanxi constitutes 70 percent of the country's total export.

(Xinhua News Agency April 19, 2006)

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