China coal mine accidents
|This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of China and coal|
Chinese coal mines are the deadliest in the world. According to official figures, at least 3,200 people died in China's mines in 2008. The actual number could be even higher, as the Chinese government is suspected of covering up some accidents. Most accidents are blamed on a failure to follow safety regulations, including adequate ventilation and available fire control equipment. In 2009, China had the most mining accident fatalities in the world, with a total of 2,631 coal miners dying in accidents, according to an official figure released by State Administration of Work Safety, which could be a conservative estimate. Mining deaths jumped again in the first half of 2010. Coal mine deaths through June 2010 were 1,261, up from 1,175 in the same period in 2009.
In 1997, the central government decided to abolish the ministries of several industries, including the Ministry of Coal, which oversaw coal worker safety. In 2005, the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety was established in its place, and is responsible for supervising coal mine safety at a national level. It is under the management of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).
Citizen fighting coal mining sent to mental hospital
An investigative report released in December 2008 said that public security officials in the city of Xintai in Shandong Province had been institutionalizing residents who persisted in efforts to expose corruption or the unfair seizure of their property. In one case, a 57-year-old farmer seeking compensation for land ruined by a coal-mining operation, was seized by authorities in October on his way to petition the central government in Beijing. He was taken to the Xintai Mental Health Center in October. He was detained for 20 days, during which time he said he was lashed to a bed, forced to take pills, and given injections that made him dizzy and numb.
February 2009: Blast kills 77 in China's worst industrial accident in over a year
On February 22, 2009, a gas explosion at the Tunlan coal mine in northern China killed at least 77 miners and trapped dozens more. It was China's deadliest coal mine accident in more than a year. As of February 25, rescuers were still searching for one more miner, who faced slim chances of survival. More than 350 people survived the explosion, including 114 who were still hospitalized.
A preliminary investigation into the cause of the blast cited negligence. The state probe found that poor ventilation and gas management, and the absence of on-site security measures and supervision were to blame for the disaster. Three senior mine officials were fired, including the mine manager, chief safety officer, and chief engineer.
On February 25, 2009, the governor of the northern province of Shanxi wept as he apologized for the disaster. Governor Wang Jun replaced the province's former governor after an unlicensed tailings dam at an iron ore mine collapsed in September 2008, killing 277 people.
April 2009: Coal mine flood kills 7 in northeast China
On April 4, 2009, about 4,000 cubic meters of water poured into the shaft of a mine in Heilongjiang Province, where 22 miners were working underground. Six miners escaped, and another four were rescued and taken to a nearby hospital. As of April 6, the death toll stood at seven, and rescue efforts were still ongoing. Officials said the mine was licensed, but that had not been authorized by safety inspectors and thus was operating. Police said they had detained the owner of the mine, which is reported to have an estimated yearly output of 40,000 tonnes.
July 2009: Miners trapped for 25 days in flooded mine
Three miners were rescued on July 12, 2009 after spending 25 days trapped in a flooded mine in Guizhou province in southern China. Rescuers burrowed through a collapsed tunnel to reach the miners, who said they had survived by drinking dirty water and eating coal. The flood trapped 16 miners on June 17. Rescuers had previously recovered one body and were still looking for the remaining 12 miners.
November 2009: Mine explosion kills more than 100
On November 21, 2009, a massive gas explosion at a coal mine in northeastern China killed at least 42 miners, with 66 more miners trapped about a third of a mile underground. By November 23, the death toll was at 104. The blast occurred while 528 miners were working underground in a state-owned mine in Hegang, in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. About 400 miners were able to escape.
March 2010: Shanxi Province Coal Mine Flood
On March 28, 2010, an estimated 261 miners (some Chinese media suspected more) working in a coal mine in northern China’s Shanxi Province were trapped when water leaked into and flooded the underground mine shaft. The authorities claimed that 108 miners had been lifted out, and that 153 were still trapped in the flood. On April 5, one hundred and fifteen more miners were rescued, nine days after being trapped in the flooded coal mine, with another 38 miners still trapped underground. Chinese media reported that some of the miners who were rescued used their belts to fasten their bodies to the rock wall, and crawled further into the mine after being submerged in water for three days and three nights. They ate pine tree bark from construction wood poles and drank cold water to stay alive.
Authorities were criticized for waiting until April 3, six days after miners were trapped, to make the first attempt to send rescuers into the pit to look for possible survivors.
April 2011: 10 coal miners feared dead in China
It was reported on April 3, 2011 that ten underground coal miners were purported to be dead in the Aiwei'ergou provincial capital of Urumqi, in China's Innjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, when an outbreak of gas caused an accident. The mine was undergoing a large project to increase annual production to about a million tons of coal annually.
April 2011: Eight trapped miners found dead
On April, 27, 2011 Chinese news outlets reported that eight miners that were trapped for about two days in a flooded coal mine in China's southwest Guizhou Province were found dead. The eight were working underground in the Xiao'aozi coal mine in the province's Liupanshui city when they got trapped after water entered the mine. The other 37 miners working with them managed to escape, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
June 2010: Henan mine blast kills 46 miners
On June 21, 2010 it was reported that a blast in the Henan province of China killed 46 coal miners. The mine, located in one of China's biggest coal producing regions, was allegedly operating illegally, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency. Though the cause of the blast is still not known, 72 miners were trapped after explosives blew up in the mine. Twenty-six escaped.
July 2010: Xiaonangou coal mine fire kills 28 workers
On July 18, 2010, an underground cable caught fire at Xiaonangou coal mine, in the Sangshuping Township of Hancheng City, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. All 28 workers in the mine died. Run by Xinxin Mining Co. Ltd., the mine was being extended. Annual output at the mine was expected to rise to 90,000 tonnes from 30,000 tonnes on completion of the extension. Police said they had detained the coal mine's owner, Guo Yungang. 
August 2010: Multiple deaths from gas leak
On August 2, 2010, a gas leak at a coal mine killed nine people and left seven missing in central Henan province.
On August 3, a coal mine blast in southwestern China’s Guizhou province left 15 people dead and one missing, according to the government. On the same day, a collapse at a coal mine in Pu’er in the province of Yunan killed one person. (An accident at an iron ore mine in Benxi, in the northeastern Liaoning province, also left four people dead, according to the safety administration).
On August 5, sixteen miners were confirmed dead after a gas leak at the Sanyuandong coal mine in Dengfeng City, Henan Province, Xinhua.
On August 7, a gas leak mine in Shifang city in the southwestern province of Sichuan killed at least one worker and trapped five more, just hours after a fire in a gold mine killed 16. The report said the leak at the mine run by Hongda Red Star Mining Co., Ltd. It was the third gas leak at a China coal mine in a week.
In late August, 2010, China Coal Energy Co., the country's second largest coal producer, announced that it intended to double its coal output by the year 2015. The Beijing-based company produced 108.5 million metric tons of raw coal in 2009 and said it aimed to boost output by 15 million tons in 2010. The company also stated that it planned to produce 200 million tons annually by 2014.
October 2010: Chinese managers charged for shooting at coal miners in Zambia
On October 17, 2010, Zambian police said managers at a Chinese-run coal mine in Zambia who shot at workers protesting poor working conditions will be charged with attempted murder. Twelve workers at Collum Coal Mine in the southern town of Sinazongwe were injured on October 15 when mainly Chinese managers fired randomly at the protesting workers. Zambian Inspector General of police Francis Kabonde told journalists: "A warn and caution statement has already been recorded and what should be realised is that there is no one above the law, as it had been portrayed by some people." The incident has raised a political storm, with opposition leader Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front accusing the Chinese in the country of being untouchable because they are funding the ruling party ahead of next year's elections: "What do you expect the government to do with the Chinese? They are their friends and they constantly fund them." Investment from China has been on the rise Zambia, with several copper and coal mines bought by Chinese firms.
October 2010: 37 dead after gas leak
As of October 18, 2010, a methane gas leak from a coal mine in Central China had caused 30 deaths. The gas leak occurred while more than 276 workers were underground. 239 escaped, but more were feared dead after more than 2,500 tons of coal dust smothered the pit after the gas leak, which has significantly hampered rescue efforts. Seven more miners were still underground, but hope for finding them alive is reportedly slim. Initial investigations into the leak have shown that a total of 173,500 cubic meters of gas had leaked out after the accident. The mine is also the site of a 2008 explosion which resulted in 23 workers losing their lives.
On October 19, it was confirmed that the seven other miners had not survived, bringing the death toll to 37. Xinhua news agency has reported that China has closed 1,355 small coal mines in 2010 as part of a larger initiative by the National Energy Administration to reorganize the mining industry in China, with the aim of increasing safety levels for workers as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the industry, which are also some of the highest in the world.
October 2010: 12 die from flooding in illegally operated mine
On Oct. 27, 2010, flooding in a Chinese coal mine killed 12 miners in southwestern Guizhou Province. 50 miners were working in the shaft of the mine, the Xinhua news agency said, adding that 38 other miners managed to escape. The flooded Dapo Mine, which has an annual capacity of 90,000 tonnes, was operating illegally when the accident occurred. It had been ordered to suspend its operations on August 20, 2010, but it continued operations and had already caused one worker to die from electrocution on September 2, 2010, Xinhua said, citing a statement from the rescue centre.
November 2010: Flooding traps 28 underground
On November 21, 2010, a coal mine in southwestern China flooded, trapping 29 men underground, according to regional officials. Rescue workers were at the Batian coal mine in Sichuan province trying to pump water out of the mine. Regional safety chief Lin Shucheng said there had been 42 miners working when the flooding began, but 13 managed to escape. Lin said the mine had recently been redesigned to increase its annual output by 10,000 tons to 60,000, with the work approved and overseen by labor and safety authorities. The next day state papers said all 29 had been rescued.
December 2010: Explosion kills 26 miners
On December 7, 2010, an underground methane gas explosion killed at least 26 people at the Juyuan Coal Mine in Henan's Mianchi county in central China. Twenty miners escaped. Rescuers were still trying to determine the exact number of people working underground because the mine's operation was 'chaotic' and the manager apparently fled after the accident, according to Li Guoqi, chief engineer for the Yi Ma Coal Industry Group. Police investigations suggested that the missing manager, Suo Yonggang, might have hidden four bodies in the shaft, Li said. The mine had been closed for upgrading while the Yi Ma group was in the process of taking over management. Engineers should have eliminated unspecified 'safety hazards' before mining resumed but Suo had ordered the miners back to work, Li said. Rescuers had to pump out toxic gas before they could enter the mine, which had an annual production capacity of 150,000 tons.
July 2010: British Petroleum's future projects: coalbed methane in China
On July 14, 2010, China National Petroleum Corporation's PetroChina Co., the nation’s largest oil producer, announced it is working with BP to assess a “huge” coal- bed methane deposit in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, as companies intensify the search for unconventional energy. Tuha Oilfield Co., a unit of PetroChina, and BP’s technical experts have carried out initial studies of the geological conditions at the Shaerhu block and completed preparatory work. Coal-bed methane, gas in shale, and tight gas held between rocks are collectively known as unconventional gas resources. PetroChina plans to accelerate production of gas found on the surface of coal in the next decade to meet domestic demand, and annual output may exceed 10 billion cubic meters by 2020, compared with a projected 4 billion cubic meters by 2015. The work on the coal-seam gas deposit in the Tuha area is part of a “new stage of cooperation” between the companies on coal-bed methane: PetroChina said it would welcome cooperation with BP and has contacted the company to see if there was anything they could help with following the oil "spill" in the Gulf of Mexico.
July 2011: Three die in China coal mine rescue
It was reported on July 11, 2011 three rescuers died as they tried to help workers trapped in a coal mine in eastern China, 21 people remained stuck in another mine in the same region. China has been hit by a spate of serious mining accidents recently, highlighting the dangerous nature of the industry.
The three rescue workers were trying to reach miners trapped in a colliery in Shandong province's Zaozhuang city after a fire broke out underground a week prior, according to the local government statement.
August 2011: Coal miners missing in flood in illegal China mine found
On August 25 2011, it was reported that twenty-six miners had been trapped for two days in a flooded coal mine in northeastern China and that rescue efforts could take days.
The mine was deemed illegal and was located in Qitaihe, in Heilongjiang province. It filled with water on August 23 when workers broke through into an adjacent flooded pit. Nineteen miners made it back to the surface. As of August 29, 2011 the search for the trapped miners continued. Rescuers heard "knocking" coming from within the mine, indicating that trapped miners may still be alive.
It was announced in August, 2011 that rescuers pulled the 22 coal miners from the flooded underground pit in north China where they were trapped for a week. On September 8, 2011 two bodies were pulled from the flooded mine, bringing the death toll to three.
August 2011: Two coal mine accidents in eastern China kill 10
In two separate coal mining accidents on Thursday, August 25, 2011 in eastern China, ten miners were killed. Falling cement from the coal mine's ventilation well killed seven miners in one incident. In another accident, three workers were found dead after a mine shaft collapsed in the city Ruichang, located in Jiangxi Province.
August 2011: 10 miners dead in flooded coal mine in southwestern China
China's official Xinhua News Agency reported on September 3, 2011 that 10 miners died and two more went missing after Zengjiagou coal mine in southwestern China flooded outside Dazhou in Sichuan province on August 29, 2011. The report stated that the mine’s owner and a safety official were taken into police custody as a result.
September 2011: Mine flood kills nine in Shanxi Province
On September 19, 2011 it was announced that China Coal Energy Co. suspended production at its coal mines in Shanxi Province on orders of the local government after a coal mine flood killed at least 9 miners.
The accident, which occurred on September 23, 2011, exposed "serious problems" with safety measures, prompting an investigation, state-controlled Xinhua news agency. The mine is operated by Jinhaiyang Yuanbaowan Coal Co. and produces 900,000 metric tons a year.
October 2011: Explosion in Chinese coal mine kills at least 17 workers
On October 4, 2011 Chinese media announced that a coal mine explosion killed at least 17 workers, but others were still missing. A cause of the blast was not reported, which occurred in the southwestern province of Guizhou.
October 2011: 8 die in southwestern China coal mine accident
On October 17, 2011 at least eight people were killed and several others went mission after an explosion at a coal mine in southwestern China. The explosion happened in the Dashu Township of Fengjie County, located in China's Chongqing Municipality, government officials told the state-run Xinhua news agency.
According to officials, 16 miners were working in the mine at the time of the gas explosion. Eight of them have been confirmed dead while five others remain unaccounted for. Three workers were successfully rescued, two of them who had injuries.
November 2011: 52 coal miners rescued following explosion, eight dead
A coal mine blast in China on November 5, 2011 left eight dead. The mine was owned by the state run Yima Coal Mine Group. 52 miners were pulled to safety from the mine. The accident was caused by an explosion in a tunnel after a minor earthquake.
November 2011: Coal mine blast kills 20, traps 23 in China
A mine blast in China and November 10, 2011 killed at least 20 workers and trapped another 23 coal miners. The mine hit a "coal and gas outburst" - which is a violent ejection of coal, gas and rock from a coal face in a mine. These types of accidents can cause serious injuries and damage to machinery. The official China News Service (CNS) said 20 people were confirmed dead. Rescue efforts for the remaining 23 trapped miners were underway.
January 2012: Collapse at coal mine in southwestern China kills 9
It was reported on January 5, 2012 it was reported that nine workers have been killed and two others are injured after a collapse at a coal mine in southwestern China, local authorities said on Thursday. The accident happened occurred at a mine in Fuyuan county, which is part of Qujing city in Yunnan province. A group of workers was clearing residue coal which caused coal heap to collapse. According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, local officials said that nine miners died while they were being transported to a local hospital.
July 2012: 16 coal miners in southern China trapped in flooded mine shaft
In July 2012 it was reported that sixteen coal miners in southern China were trapped in their flooded shaft for more than 24 hours. The China News Service states rescuers pumped the shaft dry and were restoring air supply. No word on the state of the trapped miners was given at that time. Later it was reported that after three days underground four miners were rescued from the flooded mine. A total of 11 miners were confirmed alive at the time of the rescue.
July 2012: 5 coal miners trapped in southern China mine
After 5 miners became trapped in a collapsed underground mine in Southern China in late July 2012, 53 rescuers became trapped in a tunnel. Later the 53 people were rescued and the efforts to reach the 5 others miners continued.
September 2012: 22 miners trapped in mine accident
It was reported in September 2012 that 22 Chinese miners were trapped in three different mining accidents in northeast and east China.
October 2012: 6 dead in coal gas accident
On October, 12 six people were confirmed dead after a coal mine gas accident in east China's Anhui province.
December 2012: 17 dead in coal mine accident
A gas blast in a southwest China coal mine left 17 people dead on December 5, 2012 state press reported. Forty-nine miners were able to safely escape the mine.
May 2013: 12 dead in coal mine explosion
It was reported in May 2013 that 12 Chinese miners were killed and two others injured due to an explosion at a coal mine in China’s south-west Guizhou province. 
Articles and resources
- "China Mine Blast Leaves 18 Dead," China Digital Times, April 18, 2009.
- "3 rescued after 25 days in flooded China mine," Associated Press, July 13, 2009.
- "Chinese miners freed after 25 days in flooded mine," Associated Press, July 13, 2009.
- "115 Miners Rescued From Flooded Mine in China" The Epoch Times, April 5, 2010.
- Cara Anna, "China mine fire kills 16, while gas blast kills 1" AP, August 7, 2010.
- Syd S. Peng, Understanding the Chinese Coal Industry Coal Age, Aug. 26, 2010
- Andrew Jacobs, "Whistle-Blowers in Chinese City Sent to Mental Hospital," New York Times, December 8, 2008.
- "AP Top News at 7:00 a.m. EST," Associated Press, February 22, 2009.
- "Negligence blamed in mine blast," China Daily, February 25, 2009.
- "3 officials sacked over mine blast," China Daily, February 24, 2009.
- "China official weeps, apologises for mine disaster," Reuters UK, February 25, 2009.
- "Death toll rises to seven from China coal mine flooding," China View, April 6, 2009.
- Keith B. Richburg,"Scores killed, trapped in Chinese mine explosion," Washington Post, November 21, 2009.
- Keith B. Richburg, "Death toll in Chinese mine blast rises to 104," Washington Post, November 23, 2009.
- "10 coal miners feared dead in China" Upi.com, April 3, 2011.
- "All eight trapped miners dead" UPI.com, April 27, 2011.
- "Coal mine explosives blast kills 46 in China" Reuters, June 21, 2010.
- Zhang Xiang, "28 dead miners identified, mine owner detained after NW China coal mine accident" Xinhua, July 18, 2010.
- "China Gold Mine Fire Kills 16 People; 61 Die in Pit Accidents This Month" Bloomberg, August 6, 2010.
- "China Coal Energy May Meet Target to Double Output by 2015, President Says" John Duce, Bloomberg, August 17, 2010.
- "Zambia to charge Chinese mine bosses over shooting" AFP, October 17, 2010.
- "Coal Mine Leak In China: Death Toll Rises" wooeb news, October 18, 2010.
- "China coal mine blast kills 37, incures anger" International Business Times, October 19, 2010
- "Coal mine flood kills 12 in China -Xinhua" Reuters, Oct. 28, 2010.
- "Coal mine flood traps 28 workers in China" UPI, Nov. 21, 2010.
- "Rescuers save 29 miners from China coal mine" Daily Times, Nov. 23, 2010.
- "Gas blast kills at least 26 in China coal mine" M&C, Dec. 10, 2010.
- "PetroChina, BP Assess ‘Huge’ Coal-Bed Methane Deposit" Bloomberg BusinessWeek, July 14, 2010.
- "Three die in China coal mine rescue" AFP, July 11, 2011.
- "26 workers missing in flood in illegal China mine" Associated Press, August 25, 2011.
- "Rescuers in China hear 'knocking' as they scramble to save 22 coal miners" CNN.com, August 29, 2011.
- "Chinese Coal Miners Rescued from Flooded Underground Pit" VOA News, August 30, 2011.
- "3 dead two weeks after coal mine flood" China Daily, September 8, 2011.
- "Two coal mine accidents in eastern China kills 10" Lincoln Tribune, August 25, 2011.
- "10 dead, 2 missing in coal mine flood in southwestern China" Washington Post, September 3, 2011.
- "China Coal: Government Halts Shanxi Production After Flood Kills 9 Miners" Yvonne Lee, Fox Business, September 19, 2011.
- "Explosion in Chinese coal mine kills 13 workers; 5 others missing" Associated Press, October 4, 2011.
- "Coal mine explosion kills at least 17 in China" Washington Post, October 5, 2011.
- "At least 8 dead in southwestern China mine accident" BNO News, October 17, 2011.
- "52 coal miners rescued following explosion that left eight dead," Clifford Coonan, Irish Times, November 7, 2011.
- "Coal mine blast kills 20, traps 23" AFP, November 10, 2011.
- "Collapse at coal mine in southwestern China kills 9" Channel 6 News, January 5, 2012.
- "16 coal miners in southern China trapped in flooded shaft for more than 24 hours" Associated Press, July 5, 2012.
- "Four Chinese Miners Rescued After 3 Days Underground" Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2012.
- "53 Rescuers Saved From China Mine Tunnel Collapse" ABC News, July 26, 2012.
- "22 trapped in three coal mine accidents in China" Xinhua, September 23, 2012.
- "6 dead in E China colliery gas accident" ChinaDaily.com, October 11, 2012.
- "China mine blast kills 17: state media" AFP, December 5, 2012.
- "China coal mine blast in Guizhou province kills 12" BBC News, May 10, 2013.
Related SourceWatch Articles
- China Coal Association
- Clean Energy Research Center
- Ten Year Framework on Energy and Environment Cooperation
- U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative
- U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan
- U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative
- The U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership
- The U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program
- U.S.-China Energy Policy Dialogue
- U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative
- Coal Exports from Northwest United States Ports
- Coal-to-Liquids in China
- Global use and production of coal
- Australia and coal
- Britain and coal
- Europe and coal
- Germany and coal
- Mongolia and coal
- Indonesia and coal
- Japan and coal
- New Zealand and coal
- Shenhua Group
- South Africa and coal
- United States and coal
Sources of Data on Coal Mining and Energy Sources in China
- U.S. Geological Survey, country profiles 1994 - 2006
- U.S. Geological Survey, China’s Growing Appetite for Minerals report 2004
- International Energy Agency, "Coal in China, People's Republic of in 2005", International Energy Agency website, accessed June 2008.
- Joseph Romm, "China's immoral energy policy: Part I," Gristmill, 11/1/07
- "U.S -China Fact Sheet on Coal", The White House, November 2009.
- Mao Yushi, Sheng Hong and Yang Fuqiang, "The True Cost of Coal", Greenpeace, The Energy Foundation and WWF, October 2008.
- Greenpeace, "Polluting Power: Ranking China's Power Companies", July 2009.
- JianJun Tu, "Industrial Organization of the Chinese Coal Industry", Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, June 2010. (Note this is a draft report released for feedback - cite carefully).
Articles on Chinese media coverage of coal
- "Dai Xiaojun: I Wanted to Show People the Dark Side," China Digital Times
- "Charges due in China mine killing," BBC News< March 20, 2007
- Zhao Xiaohui & Jiang Xueli, “Coal Mining: Most Deadly Job in China”, Xinhua, November 13, 2004.
- Susan Watts, “A Coal-Dependent Future?”, BBC News, March 9, 2005.
- Mines and Communities, "China Theme", Mines and Communities website, accessed June 2008. (This page provides a set of links to various articles related to China and mining issues).
- Tom Miles, "McKinsey Maps Out China's Options For Going Green", Reuters, February 26, 2009.
- Syd S. Peng, "Understanding the Chinese Coal Industry," Coal Age, August 26, 2010
- JianJun Tu, "Industrial Organization of the Chinese Coal Industry," Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University, Working Paper NO.: TBD, June 2010 (draft)