China’s appetite for coal is insatiable.
Of the 2.9 billion tonnes of global coal demand growth since 2000, China accounted for 2.3 billion tonnes or 82%.
China now accounts for 47% of global coal consumption – almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined.
But even as the country burns coal at an astonishing rate, it is working hard at cleaning up the industry.
The Chinese government will close at least 2,000 small coal mines over the next two years, the State Council said in a statement on Saturday.
China has some 12,000 operating coal mines and the closures will target coal mines with annual output of less than 90,000 tonnes and those with substandard quality coal or have bad safety records.
The new rules also tighten approval rules for new coal mines and introduces a ban on construction of coal mines with annual capacity of less than 300,000 tonnes. Mines with annual capacity of less than 900,000 tonne with low-quality coal and safety problems will also not be approved.
The latest initiative follows rapid progress in consolidating the industry in 2012.
China’s large-scale coal ventures decreased by 1,500 to 6,200 in 2012 through a number of measures.
China shut down 628 small coal mines, improved technological processes of 622 mines, merged 388 mines and phased out 98 million tonnes of outdated production facilities during the year.
Despite the crackdown, production in the country reached 3.66 billion tonnes in 2012, up by 4% compared to the year before.
According to government data the fatality rate per million tonnes mined in 2011 was 0.564, down sharply from the 4.94 recorded in 2002 but a far cry from 0.019 rate in the United States.
Some 1,384 people were killed in coal mine accidents in China in 2012.