BEIJING (AFP) - Accidents in Chinese coal mines killed 1,049 people last year, down 24 percent from 2012, authorities said, reflecting both risks and improvements in the country's thriving and often under-regulated sector.
China is the world's largest consumer of coal and its mining industry sometimes skirts safety regulations, although authorities have shut small operations in recent years to try to improve conditions.
Accidents left 1,049 people dead or missing in 2013, the central government said on its website, down from 1,384 the year before and 1,973 in 2011.
"Safety in coal mining continues to steadily improve," it said, citing measures taken by the State Administration of Work Safety.
But some rights groups argue the actual figures are significantly higher due to under-reporting by mining companies.
Last month 21 of 34 miners died in an explosion at Baiyanggou coal mine in China's western Xinjiang region, the official news agency Xinhua reported at the time.
In May, a total of around 40 miners died in two accidental blasts in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in the southwest.
An explosion at a coal mine in the northeastern province of Jilin killed 28 people in March.