China’s dangerous mines

11 May

12 miners have been killed in an explosion at a coal mine in China’s south-west Guizhou province. The mines in china have a notoriously poor safety record. The world’s worst coal mining accident took place in a north eastern province of China in 1942, then under Japanese occupation, in which 1549 miners were died after a coal dust explosion. There have been some serious mining accidents involving hundreds of deaths in recent years, but nothing to match this disaster. New regulations have been introduced to improve the safety. However, China’s mines are still considered extremely dangerous. In 2012, more than 1300 people were killed in mine accidents. China has the world’s largest mining industry, so the numbers of accidents is partly due to this, but China also has a bad safety record if looking at the percentage of mining deaths around the world. 40% of the world’s coal comes from China, but account for a whole 80% of the world’s mining deaths each year.

It should be noted however that accident rates do continue to fall, although at a slower pace than in wealthier nations, where mining today is rated as baraly more dangerous than driving on the roads.

Today’s (11 March) news of the 12 mining deaths:

Very interesting article on mining safety from the BBC:


2 Responses to “China’s dangerous mines”

  1. pcm1c12 May 13, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Related to these mine accidents is a study in the Harvard Business Review. It seems that not all Chinese coal mines are equally dangerous. The study shows that state-run mines are more deadly than private mines, an explanation would be that local government officials have a direct economic interest, and are more interested in profit than safety.

    In the study Ray Fishman, a Columbia University ecomist and finance professor Yongxian Wang, studied 276 Chinese firms operating in industries as mining and construction between 2008 and 2011. Companies with managers coming from high-level government posts were defined as politically connected.
    They found a significant result: Politically connected companies had 5 times more fatalities as similar unconnected companies! That’s, 500% more than non-connected companies! Furthermore, the arriving or leaving of a connected manager was linked to the increase of the death ratio per 10,000 workers by 10, or the falling by 6.4 in the following year.

    These are some stunning results, showing the negative side and the corruptness of Chinese capitalism.

  2. jm26g10 May 13, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

    China’s dangerous mine situation highlights a reason why China should still be classified as a developing nation. The low health and safety regulations of this nation would not be in place in developed nations, where there are significantly less accidents. In 2010, 2,600 miners were killed, which (as mentioned in the above article) has been sliced down to 1300 in 2012, but this is still an unprecedented amount. When compared to England, UK Coal Mining LTD was fined £125,000 over the death of John Harbron in 2009, and there is no similar amount of compensation offered today in China.

    The mining example is just one example why China fails to meet developed nation’s standards. Poor urban and rural sewage facilities is another. This has had devastating effects on their water system, polluting up to 60% of all fresh water. Inequality is also rife throughout China, with the effects of the economic boom still not reaching those with the highest need. For China to become a developed nation, these are the issues that need to be addressed. Health and safety is an enduring factor throughout developed nations, but is clearly of little concern to China, with the frequency of miners deaths.


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