Tensions of Transition: the Safety Problems of the Chinese Coal Industry

Abstract This study examines the safety problems of the underground coal mining industry in China. It situates these problems in the wider context of sustainable development both for China and globally. Chinese mines have the highest accident rate in the world. However, these accidents are caused by factors that are common to coal mining elsewhere in the world such as gas and coal dust explosions, flooding, falls of ground and machinery accidents. After analysing the dominant role of coal in the Chinese energy economy, the study looks at the accident and ill health statistics that are publicly available. It notes that Chinese government policy on mine safety and compensation is being re-focused on a more intensive problem-solving approach. The tragedies faced by mining communities are huge in their human and economic dimensions. They are now firmly in the international public domain, creating a powerful incentive to act. There is a growing willingness to support Chinese initiatives to improve mine safety and health on the part of international bodies. The contemporary international practice in health and safety, especially in the coal industry, is analysed. It shows that many, but not all, of the problems faced in China have been solve elsewhere. Finally, after examining the specific situation of the small mine sector, where the accident rate is highest, some proposals are made for resolving the safety problems more effectively. These proposals, the study declares, should be implemented within the context of Chinese and global sustainable development.
Author David Feickert, Victoria University of Wellington, MA Thesis, June 2007
Link http://www.usmra.com/repository/category/china_mine_safety/DFThesis_2.pdf
2 Coal, 2.4 Coal and Workers