BEIJING – A northern Chinese province accounting for nearly one-third of China's coal output will shut down 900 more coal mines by mid-2008 due to safety, environmental and energy concerns, state media reported Tuesday.
Shanxi province will close these mines as part of a campaign to reduce the number of coal mines in the province from 3,500 to 2,500 by 2010, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Between July 2005 and June, the province shut down 1,156 coal mines, Xinhua said, citing an unnamed spokesman with the local coal industry authority.
Shanxi's coal mines have suffered numerous accidents in recent years, Xinhua said. In the latest mishap, 19 miners were killed and 28 were still missing after a gas blast on Sunday at the Jiaojiazhai coal mine in Xinzhou, a central-northern city of the province.
China is the world's biggest coal producer and consumer. It also has the world's deadliest coal mines, with more than 5,000 deaths reported every year in fires, flood and explosions, despite repeated government promises to improve safety.
The government has launched a series of safety campaigns in recent years in an attempt to rein in accidents that kill more than 5,000 Chinese coal miners annually. But death tolls are largely unchanged.