Thousands of Chinese miners who say they have not been paid for months have staged a rare protest in a northeastern city.

The action came after the provincial governor made the apparently false claim that no miner working for the province's largest publicly-owned mining company was owed a penny.

The government of Heilongjiang province issued a statement Saturday night acknowledging that many employees of Longmay Mining Holding Group Co., Ltd., are owed wages and benefits.

That followed a march by workers through the city of Shuangyashan earlier Saturday to protest Governor Lu Hao's remarks dismissing their claims.

Like many industries in China's northeastern rustbelt, Longmay is struggling to boost efficiency and reduce its workforce amid a severe a slump in coal demand brought on by sharply slowing economic growth.