China to shut 2,000 small coal mines by end of 2015

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China plans to shut about 2,000 small coal mines by the end of 2015 to improve safety in a sector notorious for its deadly accidents.

Coal mines with an annual production capacity of less than 90,000 tonnes, as well as those that do not meet safety standards, would be asked to leave the business, the government said in a statement on its website.

China's mines are the deadliest in the world because of poor safety standards and a rush to feed demand from the world's fastest-growing major economy. But official data shows the death toll from accidents has been falling.

To assist with the closure of small or unsafe mines, the government said it would offer financial incentives and encourage big miners to take over smaller peers.

Areas that accelerate mine closures or succeed in shutting more mines will be given more money, the government said. Coal regions would also be encouraged to develop alternative industries and improve infrastructure.