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China's coal resources blatantly wasted 2007-05-02 18:16:49
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    BEIJING, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Inefficient, outmoded mining techniques and the blind pursuit of profit by some colliery owners have led to huge waste in China's coal mining industry.

    The "recovery rate" for China's coal resources is only 30 percent, less than half the world's average, according to the 2007 Energy Blue Paper recently released by the Social Sciences Publishing House.

    "To produce one ton of coal in China, we consume five to 20 tons of coal resources. In developed countries, they only consume 1.2 to 1.3 tons," said Doctor Cui Minxuan, chief editor of the blue paper and a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

    The world's largest coal producer and consumer produced 2.38 billion tons of raw coal last year, up eight percent year-on-year. Its raw coal output surged 15 percent to 495 million tons in the first quarter.

    But the story behind the breakneck expansion is also one of ghastly waste. Shanxi, China's largest coal producing province, is estimated to have consumed 20 billion tons of mineral resources since the late 1970s to produce only eight billion tons of coal.

    The nearly six billion cubic meters of coal-bed gas wasted in Shanxi every year represent about 50 percent to the total amount of gas transferred by the government from the west to the east. To complete the picture, 1.2 billion tons of water resources is thrown away each year.

    Appalled, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has set a goal of lifting the mineral resource recovery rate by 35percent by 2010from the 2005 level.

    If the objective is reached, China could save 250 million tons of coal, 3.25 billion cubic meters of coal-bed gas and seven million tons of oil a year by 2010, said NDRC.

    Last year, resource-rich provinces like Heilongjiang, Shandong, Shanxi, Henan and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region handed over 3.4billion yuan in mineral resource exploitation tax to the central government, almost 60 percent of the total.

    The money will be used to improve the environment, support the transformation of mining cities and tackle social problems generated by mining.

    In mid-March, east China's Shandong Province took the lead in banning the construction of collieries with an annual output of less than 450,000 tons and encouraging the construction of up-to-date million-ton giant collieries.

    The provincial government said that closing down small coal mines with an annual output of less than 90,000 tons would not be enough. Local reserves can only sustain the coal mining industry for 20 years, it said, so efficiency and costs are the top concern.

Editor: Wang Yan
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