Tag Archives: Coal mining

Last Five Bodies Recovered From Henan Mine Blast

Recovery teams have now brought out the bodies of all 37 coal miners smothered by coal dust after by an underground explosion in the Pingyu No.4 coal mine in Yuzhou in Henan on Saturday, Xinhua reports. Two hundred and thirty nine miners survived the disaster. Strenuous official efforts are being made to rid the industry of its reputation as the world’s most dangerous, but this is still China’s worst mining accident since only June.

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Zambia Mine Shootings Likely To Resound Into 2011

Two Chinese managers of the Collum coal mine in southern Zambia, Xiao Li Shan, 48, and Wu Jiu Hua, 46, have been charged with attempted murder following a shooting incident at the mine that left at least 11 workers injured. The shootings happened during a protest by miners on Friday over pay and conditions. The two managers allegedly opened fire on the protesters though whether they were shooting at or over the heads of the crowd is unclear.

China has invested heavily in Zambia’s mining industry. As in other African countries, those investments have been accompanied by rising tensions between locals and Chinese expatriates who arrive along with the investment cash from China. Some 500 Zambian copper mine workers were sacked in 2008 after rioting and attacking a Chinese manager whose injuries required hospital treatment. However, the tensions are more politicized in Zambia than anywhere else in Africa; it was a campaign issue in the presidential election in 2006 following an earlier shooting that had left five Zambians wounded by managers during pay riots at the Chinese-owned Chambishi mine the previous year.

With a general election due next year, this latest incident is likely to remain politically prominent for a while with opposition parties using it as a stick to beat a government they feel they can unseat after five consecutive terms of office. This will cause an extended and trickily public relations problem for Beijing.

Update: From the Foreign Ministry’s Oct. 19th press briefing:

[Foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu] said the matter was largely resolved but China would keep cooperating closely with Zambia to ensure any outstanding issues were settled according to law and safeguard the security and legitimate interests of Chinese companies and personnel.


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Henan Coal Mine Disaster Will Accelerate Safety Drive

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No mining accident comes at a good time, but the deadly blast at the Pingyu No.4 coal mine in Yuzhou, Henan, which killed 26 miners and trapped 11 more, could scarcely have come at a worst one. State TV carried live coverage of the recent remarkable rescue of 33 copper miners in Chile and one of the three  capsules built for the rescue is to be exhibited at the Shanghai Expo. The National Energy Administration had just announced good progress on its program of closing the smaller and most dangerous mines. The Henan disaster is getting decreasing official coverage even as the rescue effort (above left) inexorably transmutes into a recovery operation. But the long-term effect will be to speed up the efforts to make the world’s most lethal mining industry less so.

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China Closes More Small And Deadly Coal Mines

While world attention has been transfixed by the rescue of 33 copper mine workers in Chile, China, the world’s largest coal producer and consumer, and which sits on a seventh of the world’s coal reserves, has announced that it shut down more than 1,350 small and dangerous coal mines in the first nine months of this year.

The closures are part of a drive to cut the industry’s appalling accident rate. China’s coal mines are the world’s most deadly; an estimated 20,000 of the country’s 5 million coal miners die each year in accidents such as this, though the official numbers are barely a seventh of that and falling: 2,631 deaths in 2009, down from more than 6,000 in 2004. Small and unregulated mines have the laxest safety precautions.

The country’s reliance on coal for the power generation that has driven its growth over the past three decades has until recently meant that safety has played a distant second fiddle to production. As recently as six years ago, four out of five coal miners killed in accidents worldwide died in a mine in China. That said, China’s largest coal mining companies now have safety records to compare with the best in the world.

The closures also support the official drive to reduce green house gas emissions by cutting the mining and use of highly polluting brown coal and lignite, and to preserve fast disappearing agricultural land which mining operations make unsuitable for farming.

The National Energy Administration says this year’s  closures have taken out 125 million tones of outdated production capacity so far. The target is to close more than 1,500 small mines this year, and the shut-downs are being hurried forward to meet it. The longer term goal is to close all small mines by 2015. This was part of a ten year plan launched in early 2006 to reorganize the country’s fragmented coal industry —  then 28,000 coal mines, of which only 2,000 were state owned —  into five or six large groups such as Shenhua Group, China’s largest coal producer, China National Coal, the second largest, and Pingshuo Coal Industry Corp, the largest exporter. There will be fewer than 10,000 small mines left by the end of this year at current rates of closure.


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Another Deadly Blast In A Chinese Coal Mine

Another deadly day in the world’s deadliest mining industry. At least 42 miners are dead and 66 trapped following an underground gas blast at the state-owned Xinxing colliery in Heilongjiang, 250 miles northeast of Harbin near the Russian border. Xinhua said more than 400 miners on shift had escaped and 29 were in hospital injured, six seriously. The blast occurred 400 metros below the surface at 2.30 a.m., cutting power, ventilation and communication links. Mines have been working flat out to meet additional demand for coal caused by heavy snows in southeastern China. Despite a drive to close small mines, where safety standards are often laxest, in the first nine months of this year, China’s coal mines had 11 serious accidents with 303 deaths — an average of more than one a day.

Update: The death toll has risen to 87 as of Sunday morning, Xinhua reports, making this the deadliest mine accident in nearly two years.

Update: The death toll has risen to 107 as of Wednesday morning, Xinhua reports.


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Urumqi Update + Remarkable Mine Rescue

A couple of updates: first, Xinhua has raised the number of injured it is reporting in July 5th’s riot in Urumqi to 1,680, an increase of nearly 600. Its latest death toll remains unchanged from its midweek revision to 184, 137 Han and 46 Uighur. (Uighurs say their death toll was much higher.) The city was reported to be calm but tense on Sunday.

Second, CCTV reports a remarkable rescue: three miners have been found alive after being trapped for 25 days underground in the Xinqiao coal mine in Guizhou that was flooded on June 17th. They are in weak but stable condition. Rescuers found one body. Twelve other miners remain missing.

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