09/16/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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Guangdong to shut down all coal mines

Provincial authorities take this step to implement safety measures adopted after the latest mining disasters. Heavy fines have been announced for public officials in charge of mine safety.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Guangdong provincial authorities ordered the closure of all coal mines following a disaster that killed more than 100 miners last month, an official news agency reported today. The report explains that tough safety measures are behind the decision to cease all coal mining.

In recent months, the province saw a series of accidents due to lax enforcement of work safety regulations.

In August, 123 miners were killed when a flood swept through the province's Daxing Coal Mine, provoking an outcry over the government's failure to fully enforce safety standards at the local level.

Guangdong authorities thus decided to cease operations at 141 mines, which will join the 112 facilities already shut down because they lacked appropriate safety certificates.

Li Yizhong, head of the country's Work Safety Administration, has vowed to crack down on unsafe mining operations. He announced that the authorities might fine violators up to 10 million yuan (about one million euros or 1.2 million US dollars).

In 2004, coal production in Guangdong reached 8 million tonnes, 1 per cent of China's total output.

China's coal mines are the world's most dangerous. According to official figures, 6,027 miners died last year. More than 1,400 died this year and more than 60 per cent of all accidents occurred in mines that had been ordered shut down for safety reasons.

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