BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s State Council will prohibit the construction of new coal mines in areas of “complex geology” with a capacity below 900,000 metric tons per year, state media outlet Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
The prohibition, announced as one of ten guidelines for local authorities, comes as Beijing cracks down on safety violations in the coal and non-coal mining sectors, following a string of deadly accidents in the country’s mines.
Coal mines in China are among the most dangerous in the world, with accidents causing almost 250 deaths in 2022, a six-year high. Smaller, locally managed mining operations are considered to be particularly high risk.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, also issued guidelines to improve administration of existing safety requirements and accelerate the adoption of automation in the industry, according to the Xinhua report.
In recent weeks, safety inspectors in northwest Shaanxi province, China’s third-largest coal-mining region, have ordered the suspension of operations at more than a dozen coal mines, after a gas explosion in a coal mine on Aug. 21 killed 11 people and injured 11 others.
In February, an open-pit mine in Inner Mongolia collapsed, killing 53 people.
(Reporting by Andrew Hayley; Editing by Christina Fincher and Chizu Nomiyama)