Photo: Richard Harrison, Geograph, CC BY
China's state-run newspaper is reporting that the nation has undertaken drastic measures to improve its mining industry, which is widely recognized as the most dangerous in the world. Perhaps in response to the massive media coverage of the Chilean miners' stirring saga, China Daily is reporting that the People's Republic of China has now shut down more than 1600 of its oldest, most unsafe mines. Two things come to mind in response to the rather amazing news:First, that's an incredible number of unsafe mines, even for a nation as large and as unobservant of human rights as China. Second, it might be an early sign that China is starting to put the brakes on its coal consumption -- clearly it won't cease firing its coal plants for the foreseeable future. But perhaps demand for coal is beginning to plateau enough that its mad dash for mining the stuff -- no matter the cost to human life -- is slowing to a jog. They've already been busy closing the doors on inefficient coal-burning power plants.
This makes for another chance to mention that China's clean energy portfolio is becoming ever more impressive, and perhaps planners are taking into account the vast wind and solar projects that are already being deployed there. Any way you cut it, the news that China is shutting down its most dangerous mines is of the good variety. Here's the AP:
The state-backed People's Daily newspaper reported Thursday that 1,611 small mines across China with outdated facilities were closed this year, citing the National Energy Bureau.Again, this is good news -- a small step in the human rights realm for a nation that could use a leap.
More than 2,600 people died in mining accidents in China last year, though deaths have decreased in recent years as the government increased safety inspections and shut down illegal mines.
In October, the State Administration of Work Safety said mine managers and bosses who do not accompany workers down into mine shafts would be severely punished.