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Authorities to enhance mine safety

Li Hongyang
Updated: Jan 30,2021 06:59 AM    China Daily

China will speed up the mechanization of mining operations and enhance safety supervision after the central government found repeated safety risks during a campaign to overhaul the industry, a spokeswoman for the safety supervising authority said.

The Jan 10 explosion at a gold mine in Qixia, Shandong province, has led to 10 deaths with the search for one worker ongoing. The central government is investigating the accident.

Shen Zhanli, spokeswoman with the Ministry of Emergency Management, told a news conference on Jan 29 that the ministry and the Office of the Work Safety Commission under the State Council will carry out a three-year plan to build intelligent mines across the country, using the internet and machines to automatically operate mining processes.

"The plan aims to eradicate production accidents from the root," she said.

To prevent further accidents, supervising authorities will have direct access to surveillance videos of mining sites and will provide safety training for mine workers.

A campaign launched by the ministry in August to check whether sites that had experienced serious production accidents improved their safety management found that some coal mines were still producing above their capacity and illegal coal mine construction hadn't been eliminated, according to conclusions released at the news conference.

Zhao Suqi, a senior official with the National Mine Safety Administration, said that the major bottlenecks in mine safety management are the lack of awareness of safety red lines, inadequate on-site management and illegal contracting.

Currently, coal prices remain high, so overcapacity and intensive mining still cannot be eradicated, he added.

Li Wanchun, chief engineer with the ministry, said: "Some local governments have not taken safe production seriously enough or learned lessons from accidents. Blind spots and loopholes lie in safety supervision. For example, local authorities set low thresholds for construction approval and perform slack enforcement."

The central government has taken various measures to overhaul the industry.
Since 2016, the country has closed more than 4,800 small or substandard coal mines across the country and 48 previously coal-producing cities have withdrawn from the coal-mining industry.

Safety authorities have punished 230 mines where they found unauthorized mining that could damage mineral resources in 19 provinces including Liaoning, Yunnan, Shanxi and Shandong.

Li, the engineer, warned that rising demand in the energy, manufacturing and construction sectors in February will put great pressure on safe production.

"Every Spring Festival, enterprises will rush for orders and produce over their capacity. That leads to pressure on workers in the mining, oil and gas industries. Both workers and supervisors should be highly cautious about safety problems and prepare contingency plans," he said.

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