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Report: China to shut down hundreds of smaller coal mines

By the CNN Wire Staff
Mine workers carry pipes to the entrance to the Wangjialing coal mine during rescue efforts on March 31.
Mine workers carry pipes to the entrance to the Wangjialing coal mine during rescue efforts on March 31.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Effort targets deadly accidents, pollution
  • China will switch to larger mines with newer equipment, increased capacity
  • Coal makes up 75 percent of China's energy use

(CNN) -- China closed 1,355 small coal mines this year, according to Xinhua, the country's state-run press agency.

The effort is part of a larger plan to restructure the mining industry to prevent deadly accidents and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Xinhua reported, citing the National Energy Administration (NEA).

China has one of the world's deadliest records for miners, with poor safety standards accounting for thousands of deaths each year.

According to the China Mining Association, the goal is to eventually boost the industry. Small coal mines, which use outdated technology, will be replaced with larger coal mines, increasing capacity.

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Davitt McAteer, former press secretary for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, called the move a response to the consequences of China's "unmitigated economic growth."

"If you emphasize production so much ... and you fail to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the community, you get all kinds of disasters in terms of health and environment," he said.

China is the largest global producer and consumer of coal, comprising 75 percent of China's total energy consumption.

Approximately 11,000 small coal mines are still in operation.

 
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