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China Vice Premier Stresses Safe, Clean Mining Operations

Xinjing Coal Mine, China (pictured) had a major accident earlier this year which claimed the lives of over 50 workers. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 14, 2006
China's Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan called Tuesday for cleaner, safer and sustainible operations in the country's mining industry, saddled with a poor environemental and safety record. "(We must) pursue reasonable planning of resource exploitation, step up the monitoring of inspection, excavation, processing and transport to prevent damaging the resources and the environment," Zeng told a mining conference in Beijing, according to the Chinese government website.

"China attaches importance to the mining sector's ... clean development, safe development and sustainable development," he said.

More profits from the mining sector should be ploughed back into mining districts, he said.

Coal mines supply 70 percent of China's energy needs and are highly profitable but as mine owners get richer, mining districts are among China's poorest and most deprived areas.

"We need to ... ensure profits are put back into the communities," said Zeng,

He said China's fast-paced economic growth relied on a steady and increasing supply of mined resources but stressed the importance of responsible exploitation to prevent environmental damage.

Mines in China are regarded as the most dangerous in the world.

Almost 6,000 workers were killed in the country's industry last year -- a rate of about 16 fatalities each day -- according to official figures.

Labor rights groups say the real number of mining deaths could be as high as 20,000 a year, with the official tally much lower because local government officials and mine owners often cover up accidents.

Apart from the loss of lives, communities suffer heavy environmental pollution and structural damage to their homes caused by mining.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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