China closures reflect tougher health, safety stance

MOST coal-fired boilers in Beijing’s city center will be closed by the end of 2015 in an effort to reduce pollution, officials say, while a provincial government in the south has increased the amount of small mines it intends to close this year after a deadly blast recently.

Staff Reporter

Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau and Commission of Development and Reform are taking action against pollution. The departments say the city will replace all coal-fired boilers with a generating capacity greater than 20 tonnes of steam per hour with clean energy by the end of 2015 in an inner city district, according to China Daily.

Three inner-city districts have already divested from coal in a move to cut Beijing’s coal use by 1.4 million tonnes this year.

The goals were revealed in the 2013 coal consumption reduction plan released by the Environmental Protection Bureau this week.

Last year’s plan slashed coal use by 700,000 metric tonnes.

In an attempt to prevent mine accidents, the Sichuan province in southwest China announced at a conference on Sunday that it would up the number of mine closures for the year to 200, from an initial target of 120, according to Steelguru.

A target of closing 500 small coal mines has also been set for the end of 2015. The number of coal companies in Sichuan will be reduced to within 300.

The news comes after a gas explosion killed 28 people and injured 18 earlier this month at the province’s Taozigou mine.

Following the blast, state media reports confirmed that the mine was meant to be closed for a technical upgrade but mining continued at 22 coal faces, none of which had ventilation facilities.

A spark is said to ignited accumulated gas in the mine.

Reports, citing government officials, said that all mines in the region had been temporarily closed for a safety overhaul and the Taozigou mine was closed permanently.

According to economic figures from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, last year’s coal mine death toll was down 33.75% on 2011. But its safety record remains one of the worst in the world.

Government efforts to stamp out hazardous mines have resulted in the closure of more than 9000 small coal operations 2006.