As mega-Chinese coal pit opens, Chinese government shutter smaller coal mines
As China’s new largest open-pit coal mine gears up for production, the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said it wants 2,500 small coal mines shuttered and 1,600 restructured over the next two years.Shenhua Zhungeer Energy told official state news agency, Xinhua, Sunday that it is set to start production with an estimated 7 million tonnes of coal to be mined in the first quarter of this year.With an annual production capacity of 20 million tonnes of coal, the mine in Haerwusu in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is expected have a 79-mine life. The company said it has invested 7 billion yuan (US$1.02 billion) in the project.Rich in low-sulfur steam coal, the mine is believed to have 1.73 billion tonnes of coal reserves and resources.Meanwhile, central government officials are urging local government to speed up their coal industry restructuring and put coal mines producing less than 300,000 tons under strict administration. Six fatal mining accidents in six provinces and regions killed a total of 43 people between October 9 and October 16, China Daily reported.Four central government agencies-including the National Development and Reform Commission, the National Energy Administration, the State Administration of Work Safety and the State Administration of Coal Safety-recently published a joint circular stating the number of small collieries will be reduced to below 10,000 by 2010 to cut accidents, and balance supply and demand. In the long run, it is believed that the mass closure of small coal mines would ease the pressure of overproduction.China has closed more than 18,000 small coal miners with a combined production of 250 million tons by the end of last year. The central government wants to encourage large mining companies to merge with the small coal miners to improve worker safety. More than 8,800 coal mines have been merged into 3,700 operations.The State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said the number of small mines will be reduced to 10,000 from the current 14,000 by 2010, China Daily reported.