Mine accidents surge as production is ramped in top coal province in China

Mine accidents surge as production is ramped in top coal province in China


There has been a string of high-profile accidents despite govt efforts to ensure safety standards

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BEIJING (Reuters) – The death toll from coal mining accidents in China's top coal producing region has surged to 100 people so far this year, according to a notice issued by China's cabinet on Monday that said safety checks would be ramped up.

The figure represents a more than 53 per cent increase on the 65 people killed in 54 coal mining accidents in Shanxi province in 2022, according to data from the China Coal Industry Association, as miners raise output.

There have been 87 accidents in the province's coal mines so far this year, the notice from the China's cabinet the State Council said.

The accidents expose "inadequate coordination of development and safety, failure of the main safety responsibilities of mining enterprises, and weak mine safety foundations," the notice said.

The problems need to be resolved urgently, and a team from the State Council's Security Committee would be stationed in the province from late November this year until the end of May 2024, the State Council added.

Prices of China's most active coking coal futures contract jumped more than 5pc after the announcement on Monday, which followed a fire at the office of a coal mining company in Shanxi's Lvliang city earlier in November that killed 26 people.

"Safety checks have been quite stringent following a few mining accidents since November, and this has tightened domestic supply of the steelmaking raw material," said Pei Hao, a Shanghai-based analyst at international brokerage FIS.

China's coal mining sector has suffered a string of high-profile accidents this year, despite repeated efforts by the government to tighten enforcement of safety standards in the country's mines.

Miners have pledged to ramp up production this year to ensure adequate coal supply, amid a concerted push for greater domestic energy security.

Shanxi is China's top coal producing region, and accounted for 23pc of the country's coal reserves as of the end of 2022, according to data from the State Council.

The province has set a target to increase coal output by around 4.6pc this year to 1.37 billion metric tons.

Nationwide coal production reached 3.83 billion metric tons over the first 10 months of 2023, up 3.1pc versus the same period last year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows.