Baby steps for Chinese safety

FOLLOWING a string of tragedies, the Chinese government has announced it is raising minimum coal mine safety requirements.
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Justin Niessner

Facing an inarguable reputation for having the deadliest coal mining industry in the world, China’s State Administration of Work Safety announced a similar but less focused resolution only a week ago.

Announced on Monday, the agency’s newest ruling required the coal industry to improve work safety by ordering mines to invest more in safety facilities and education.

The regulations demanded coal miners pay 30 yuan ($US4.80) for each ton of coal output from mines with high gas levels and 15 yuan per ton from mines deemed less dangerous, according to state-owned news service Xinhua.

Xinhua said the funds would be used for improving facilities, education, underground shelters and monitoring equipment for major sources of danger.

The revisions represented the first significant security boost since standards set in 2004, when the minimum safety investment per ton was only 3-8 yuan for dangerous coal mines and 2-5 yuan for ordinary mines.

The most recent government action was stirred by recent tragedies, including one fatality due to a coal mine fire which official press described on Friday as being “concealed” by the mining company and local authorities.

Xinjua on Friday reported that 12 miners were trapped in a Jilin province coal mine because a neighboring mine flooded the area.

The State Administration of Work Safety urged the industry to tighten standards as recently as last week when a Guizhou province gas explosion prompted the identification of problems including illegal operation, substandard working conditions and failure to report to safety authorities.