China’s coal mines less deadly, still dangerous

China reported fewer coal mine deaths last year but safety hazards still abound in the country’s coal production, a work safety regulator has said.

Mine accidents killed 37 workers for every 100 million tonnes of coal produced in 2012, said Huang Yi, chief engineer of the State Administration of Work Safety.

That was down from 56.4 deaths per 100 million tonnes of coal output in 2011, but still well above the U.S. level of 1.9 in 2011, according to the administration’s data.

In total, 1,384 people were killed in coal mine accidents last year, declining from 1,973 in 2011, Huang said.

“The work safety situation at coal mines remains grim and we can not be blindly optimistic,” he said.

The administration last month put into effect rules that hold coal mine managers accountable for protecting workers’ lives. Managers are required to guarantee proper licenses of operation, ventilation and better trained workers.

Illegal coal production at mines without valid licenses accounted for 43 percent of major accidents that occurred in the past decade, according to Huang.

Meanwhile, 93 percent of major gas explosions at coal mines were caused by ventilation system problems, he said.

Xinhua