Mining accidents rise in China’s largest coal province as producers increase production

Mining accidents rise in China’s largest coal province as producers increase production

A worker walks past piles of coal at a coking plant in Yuncheng, Shaanxi Province, China on January 31, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/William Hong/File photo courtesy

BEIJING, Nov 27 (Reuters) – The death toll in coal mining accidents in China’s largest coal-producing region has risen to 100 so far this year, according to a Chinese government memo issued on Monday that said safety checks would be strengthened.

The figure represents an increase of more than 53% from the 65 people killed in 54 coal mining accidents in Shaanxi province in 2022, according to data from the China Coal Industry Association, as miners ramp up production.

A notification issued by China’s State Council said 87 accidents had occurred in coal mines in the province so far this year.

The notice said the incidents reveal “insufficient development and safety coordination, failure of mining companies’ key safety responsibilities, and weak mine safety foundations.”

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

Prices for China’s most active coke futures jumped more than 5% after Monday’s announcement, which followed a fire at a coal mining company’s office in the Shaanxi city of Levliang earlier in November that killed 26 people.

“Safety checks have been very strict following some mining accidents since November, and this has tightened domestic supplies of raw materials for the steel industry,” said Pei Hao, an analyst at Shanghai-based international brokerage FIS.

China’s coal mining sector has suffered a series 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 increase production this year to ensure adequate coal supplies, amid a coordinated drive to achieve greater domestic energy security.

Shanxi is the largest coal-producing region in China, accounting for 23% of the country’s coal reserves as of the end of 2022, according to State Council data.

The province has set a target to increase coal production by about 4.6% this year to 1.37 billion metric tons.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that coal production nationwide reached 3.83 billion tons during the first ten months of 2023, an increase of 3.1% compared to the same period last year.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Haley and Amy Love – Preparing by Gabriel for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Jamie Freed

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Andrew reports on energy and energy policy in China. He previously worked in investment banking in London, covering European high-yield debt transactions. Andrew speaks Mandarin and is learning Russian.

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