Fewer China mine deaths recorded

BEIJING: China’s coal mining industry, the world’s deadliest, has improved dramatically but will need another decade to make more fundamental changes, the country’s mine safety director said today.

Accidents last year killed 2,631 coal miners, much lower than the peak of 6,995 deaths in 2002, said Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. That works out to 7.2 deaths a day in 2009, down from 19.1 a day in 2002. But Zhao said China’s coal mines are still accident-prone and face a difficult task of improving further. He added it would take another 10 years to fundamentally improve. “Awareness of safety and rule of law is still low in some coal-rich areas and some coal enterprises,” Zhao was quoted as saying.

China has closed or absorbed hundreds of smaller, often-illegal private mines into state-owned operations, which are generally safer.