China claims coal mine deaths down to record low
Coal mine fatalities in China dropped almost 87% to 931 last year from more than 7,000 casualties registered in the sector in 2002, recent figures disclosed by Beijing show, but doubts remain about death counts and cover-ups in one of the world’s most dangerous jobs.
If numbers were accurate this would be the first time since the 1980s that the annual death toll in China’s coal mines goes below the 1,000 mark.
Government efforts to tighten safety rules and close thousands of smaller, more dangerous mines have led to cuts in official death counts and fatality rates over the years.
Bring the robots
But Beijing wants more. In a recent interview with South China Morning Post the director of the State Administration of Work Safety, Yang Dongliang, said his long-term goal is to one day have mostly robots working in the nation’s coal mines.
He added authorities were already working on it, with about 95% of China’s largest coal mines using robotic mining equipment. However, medium and small-sized operations still rely on manual labour, Dongliang said.
Mine accidents in China, the world's largest coal producer, are unfortunately quite common as local companies often privilege profits over worker safety.
It is estimated that about 5.8 million people across the nation currently work in the coal sector.