China, the world’s largest coal consumer, is stepping up efforts to cut the share of coal in its overall energy mix and consequent smog and greenhouse gas emissions by investing $4.6 billion (30 billion yuan) to close small and inefficient operations across the country.
According to state news agency Xinhua, Beijing plans to close about 4,300 coal mines, remove outdated production capacity of 700 million tonnes and redeploy around 1 million workers over the next three years.
Citing the China National Coal Association, the report said China has eliminated about 560 million tonnes of coal production capacity and closed 7,250 coal mines in the last five years.
However, the country still had around 11,000 coal mines in operation by the end of 2015, with a total capacity of 5.7 billion tonnes, the report added.
The fresh measures, aimed to shrink both oversupply and a worsening pollution crisis, follows China’s decision last month to halt the approval of new coal mines until at least 2019.
As the pace of Chinese growth slows, the demand for energy sources also goes down. However providing alternate employment to a million people is a daunting task.Finding substitution for 700 million tons of coal will not be such a big problem. Most of that will be retired as many old metal mills will be closed and energy is not required. Some will be replaced with Solar and wind which are growing rapidly and will also provide new jobs. Any shortfall can be managed with imported coal.
They can raise hogs and grow rice.
It takes a lot of labor to make and install solar panels and windmills, as well as to service them. Dollar for dollar, (or yuan for yuan for yuan!) investment in solar and wind provide more jobs than investment in fossil fuels. China is very aggressively expanding their renewable energy base, so that ought to help offset the losses in coal.