Monday, 4 June 2007

Coal and Corruption

As part of our "corruption watch" we read in today's China government's offical website that:

China punishes over 5,000 officials for illegal coal mine participation

There are a number of interesting numbers that have been thrown into this small article that I must say I was unaware of. In the UK any coal mines that are left are operated on a massive scale. If it difficult to conceive that coal mines can just be set up illegally without anyone knowing but for China to have 100,000 illegal mine cases is astonishing.

The other figure that is of course a cause for concern in the 17 deaths per DAY in Chinese coal mines. This may be less surprising when read with the number of illegal mines in operation.

Linking to the previous article the environmental implications of such activity are also entirely negative.

More than 5,000 Chinese civil servants participating in coal mine operation have received punishment in almost 100,000 illegal mining cases since 2005, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR).

By the end of 2006, China has investigated 89,926 cases of mining with no licenses, 1,907 cases involving illegal trading of prospecting and mining rights, and 5,795 cases of mining beyond boundary lines, said Jia Qihai, a senior official in charge of mining resources development in MLR.

A total of 2,154 people received penal treatment for illegal coal mining, he said.

However, the MLR official specified neither where or what ministries these civil servants come from nor the kinds of punishment they took.

China has been cracking down on illegal mining since the State Council, the country's cabinet, demanded an overall straighten-out campaign in August 2005.

"Generally speaking, the number of cases of illegal mining are declining sharply and mine resources are exploited in a more orderly manner," said Jia, who also called for more related efforts to address this issue.

"Officials in some regions still haven't realized the graveness of the situation and supervision and institutional construction remains weak," he said.

Coal mine accidents killed 4,746 people in China in 2006. On average, 17 miners lose their lives everyday in Chinese coal mines, which are the world's deadliest.

On May 10, the State Administration of Work Safety announced punishment on 133 people held responsible for five serious accidents that claimed 249 lives. Four of the five accidents occurred in coal mines.

The largest single accident was a mine blast in Hebei Province on Dec. 7, 2005, which killed 108 people.

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