China relaxes coal mine safety efforts on electricity crisis

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Chinese regulators plan to be more prudent in their response to mining accidents as authorities ask coal producers to ramp up output to help stave off the country’s deepening power crisis.

The National Development and Reform Commission told miners at a meeting on Thursday that accidents will no longer result in the shutdown of nearby mines for safety inspections, local industry publication Fengkuang Coal Logistics said in a WeChat post. The move comes as Beijing calls for them to produce coal at full capacity for the rest of the year even if they exceed quota limits.

A shortage of coal heading into winter has sent prices in China and around the world surging to record levels. While demand for the fossil fuel has been strong this year as the global economic recovery gathered pace, output in China hasn’t been able to keep up. That’s partly due to tougher laws and stricter safety inspections following a series of deadly accidents. 

High coal prices have constrained output at coal-fired plants that sell electricity at regulated projects. Some have shut for maintenance or refused to ramp up activities despite the power crunch, as they’re operating at a loss because of the surging coal prices.

(By Dan Murtaugh)

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