Major initiative to improve China coal mine safety

Few in the industry can be unaware that safety in China’s smaller coal mines remains a critical problem. It is completely unaccetable for thousands of miners to die each year. The Chinese authorities are putting much emphasis on solving this issue and now the United Nations Development Program has waded in with more support. Miners and their families in five provinces will soon receive enhanced education and training while mine policies and regulations will be improved as part of a four-year UNDP project aimed at strengthening the safety capacity of the coal industry in China. Entitled Strengthening Coal Mine Safety Capacity in China, the $14.42 million project was launched on March 27 in Beijing. It is designed to improve current standards and regulations of mine safety and bolster their enforcement. With a special focus on small-scale town and village mines, where the fatality rate is almost twice the national average, the project will also set up pilot training centers for over 1,000 miners and their families in an effort to raise awareness of mining dangers and safety issues in Anhui, Guizhou, Henan, Liaoning, and Shanxi. “Being a coal miner in China is one of the world’s most dangerous jobs,” said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Co-ordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China, at the launch. “In addition to improving standards and mining methods, this project will work individually with miners and their families in finding solutions to safety challenges.” Spouses and other family members are in a unique position to provide daily support to miners in accident prevention and awareness, the initiative will, therefore, prepare families to cope with difficulties in mine accidents. In addition to safety training and policy support, other project areas include pilot demonstrations in key aspects of coal mine safety and the transfer of new technologies for coal mine methane capture. Peng Jianxun, Vice Administrator of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said at the ceremony that this year, the government agencies will continue to strive for better coal mine gas control and process illegal mine closures. They will also strengthen efforts to bring coal mine safety management within international standards. “This project therefore provides a good opportunity for China to draw on international experience and best practices in advanced management concepts and methods for mine safety, “he said.