Apr 12, 2010
Thirty-eight miners died in a flooded coal mine recently in Shanxi in northwest China, with 115 rescued, weak but alive.
The same week, nine miners died in the a fire in another mine in Shanxi. In another province, 20 miners were killed in an explosion. In a Heilongiang mine, five more were drowned. In Xinjiang, ten miners were buried in a mine collapse.
For 2009, the Chinese government says 2631 miners died in mine incidents, down from almost three times the number of miners dying in 2002. Either way, too many miners still die in Chinese mines, whether seven per day this past year, or 19 per day at an earlier time.
Chinese authorities said they closed 12,000 small mines, those considered most dangerous to the miners. Yet the Shanxi accident took place in a large mine, owned by the Chinese government.
A Shanxi miner told a journalist, “There are galleries where water burst out when we began to dig. I told the foreman, but the bosses didn’t want to hear anything. Production is the only thing that counts for them, production at any price.” Most miners are day laborers, he added, working without days off. They do the dangerous job because the pay is higher than what they can earn anywhere else, about $20 a day.
Electric power plants using coal account for 70% of the energy produced in China. No matter whether the mines are owned by the state or by private capital, miner safety is clearly not the bosses’ concern!