BEIJING, April 4 China will close 1,725
small-scale mines with a total capacity of 117.48 million tonnes
in 2014 as part of its programme to phase out low-quality coal
production, its energy administration said on Friday.
Smog-hit China has been desperate to reduce coal
consumption, a major source of pollutants, including hazardous
airborne particulate matter in the country's cities.
Beijing hopes to close old and depleting mines in the east
and consolidate output in a series of "coal energy bases" in
remote parts of the country, including the vast northwestern
regions of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang.
The National Energy Administration said in a notice posted
on its website (www.nea.gov.cn) that local governments must also
encourage mergers and technological upgrades in a fragmented
coal sector long plagued by poor safety standards.
They will be obliged to disclose the details of their pit
closure programme to the public in order to improve enforcement.
Local governments have been under orders to gradually shut
all coal mines with annual production capacity of less than
90,000 tonnes, as well as those mines that are operating
illegally and do not comply with state safety requirements.
While China is determined to reduce the share of coal in its
energy mix to less than 65 percent this year, its last five-year
plan for the energy sector still allows for the construction of
an additional 860 million tonnes of new coal production capacity
over the 2011-2015 period.
China aims to cap total coal production at 4.1 billion
tonnes by 2015, up from 3.7 billion tonnes in 2013, but some
experts predict the actual figure will be much higher, given the
number of new mine project approvals.
(Reporting by David Stanway, editing by William Hardy)