China will crack down on illegal coal mining this year

Safety watchdog reported 375 fatalities last year

China will crack down on illegal coal mining this year
Labourers shovel coal at a coal storage site in Hefei, Anhui province July 21, 2011. [photo] REUTERS/Stringer [/photo]

China will carry out "special action" in 2018 to crack down on illegal coal mining to ensure safe mine operations and reduce output capacity, the State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement today.

Coal mines who fail to meet safety measures or operational standards will be ordered to close and rectify violations, according to the statement. 

Common violations include employees working longer hours than permitted, oversized mine capacity, and employing too many workers, the statement said. 

The safety watchdog last month reported 219 coal mining accidents in 2017 and 375 fatalities, down nearly 30 per cent from 2016. Annuals deaths in the coal sector have fallen steadily from a peak of nearly 5,000 in 2003. 

Still, the number of accidents and deaths are too high, the safety agency said. 

The office of work safety will also carry out inspections to shut so-called "zombie" mines and cut excess capacity at mines. 

China aims to eliminate all coal mines with a capacity of less than 90,000 tonnes a year to reduce safety risks at coal mines. Some regions have said they plan to raise the threshold to 150,000 tonnes or more.