China says over 2 400 dead in coal mines in 2010

A total of 2 433 people died in coal mine accidents in China last year, a senior work safety official said on Friday, vowing to beef up safety in the nation’s notoriously dangerous collieries.

The death toll last year was 198 lower than in 2009, Huang Yi, chief engineer and spokesperson for the State Administration of Work Safety, told reporters — but the total still means more than six people are killed in mines each day on average.

China’s mines are known for being among the deadliest in the world because of lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency.

Labour rights groups have long maintained the actual death toll is likely much higher than shown in official data, partly because of the under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses.

“The safety support abilities at coal mines are still not strong and foundations for safe production are quite weak at many small coal mines,” Huang said.

Fatalities at Chinese coal mines peaked in 2002 when 6 995 deaths were recorded, sparking efforts by the government to boost safety standards.

Safety systems
In March last year, a flood at the vast, unfinished Wangjialing mine in the northern province of Shanxi left 153 workers trapped underground, but 115 were recovered alive in a rare rescue success for the industry.

In its latest campaign to increase safety standards, the government last year issued a policy that required six kinds of safety systems, including rescue facilities, to be installed in all coal mines within three years.

Huang said work safety authorities were screening producers to manufacture equipment such as rescue capsules and were selecting certain mines for a trial programme before rolling the systems out nationwide.

The dramatic rescue of 33 miners trapped for more than two months in Chile using a rescue capsule captivated the world — and highlighted the safety shortcomings of China’s mines.

China relies on coal-generated power for about 70% of its electricity needs and safety concerns are widely ignored as the country tries to satisfy surging demand for the fuel.

In July, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered mining bosses to work side-by-side with miners in the pits as a way of ensuring that companies more closely observe safety rules. – AFP

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

China’s resource-for-infrastructure deals

Are RFIs a viable model for aiding Africa’s economic development?

China blamed for Zambia’s debt, but the West’s banks and agencies enabled it

The narratives about the African country’s debt crisis are being used as fodder in geopolitical battles

Xolobeni activist receives death threat

In an environment where activism against mining is becoming increasingly deadly, Nonhle Mbuthuma’s life may be at risk

Muddying the waters in the Musina Makhado economic zone

The public participation process on the environmental impact assessment for the area’s special economic zone has been shambolic

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

We should not ignore Guinea’s constitutional coup

Citizens have for a year protested against the president seeking a third term in office despite a two-term limit. Many have been killed — and 90 more people died in this week’s crackdown

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

DRC: Tshisekedi and Kabila fall out

The country’s governing coalition is under strain, which could lead to even more acrimony ahead

Editorial: Crocodile tears from the coalface

Pumping limited resources into a project that is predominantly meant to extend dirty coal energy in South Africa is not what local communities and the climate needs.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Nehawu leaders are ‘betraying us’

The accusation by a branch of the union comes after it withdrew from a parliamentary process

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…