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Chinese govt. blows up coal mines as dangerous pits ordered to close

Hamish McDonald, Sydney Morning Herald (Au)
The Chinese Government is trying to shut down about 7000 of the country’s smaller and more dangerous coalmines and sever collusive ties between mine owners and local officials. …

Authorities have started dynamiting underground shafts and tunnels in the mines they have ordered to close, aware that after previous crackdowns many small mines have been quietly reopened. China has about 6000 mining deaths a year, most in small operations run by local governments and businessmen. There have already been 3400 deaths this year to mid-August.

The State Administration of Coal Mine Safety announced this week that 1324 unsafe mines had been ordered closed, and the list would reach about 7000 mines out of the country’s 24,000. This would not have a great effect on national coal output, of 2.1 billion tonnes a year, because of the small scale of most of these mines, officials said. …

However, if implemented, the shutdown could throw hundreds of thousands of miners out of work, as these small mines are usually highly labour-intensive, risking civil disturbances. …

Guangdong mine owners are meanwhile resisting a provincial government order that all unlicensed mines be blown up, Hong Kong newspapers have reported. They are claiming that many of the several dozen mines already destroyed with explosives were licensed.

“We were running a legal business,” He Tao, owner of the Luojiachong mine in Lianzhou, told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. “Why has the Government treated us this way?”. Villagers with investments in the province’s Xichong colliery joined its managers in a clash with about 100 riot police on August 16, when officials came to blow it up.

At Shaoguan, where several other mines are listed for closure, several thousand villagers have been protesting against the destruction of mines in Shaoguan since last Saturday, the Communist Party-sponsored newspaper Wen Wei Po newspaper said.
(1 September, 2005)

China to slow exports of gas, oil products

Staff, Associated Press
China will suspend tax rebates for gasoline and naphtha exports through the end of the year, the State Administration of Taxation announced, in an apparent step to ensure adequate domestic supplies amid rising oil prices. The suspensions will take effect from Thursday, according to a brief announcement on the administration’s Web site. The announcement gave no explanation for the suspensions.

Exporters of gasoline and airplane fuel currently receive an 11 percent tax rebate, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Exporters of naphtha, a raw material for the production of plastics, receive a 13 percent rebate, Xinhua said. The rebates were intended to encourage exports to earn foreign currency for the Chinese economy. China imports almost half its daily consumption of about 6.7 million barrels a day and is striving to meet the massive energy needs of its booming economy.
Abrupt fuel shortages blamed on hot weather-driven demand and transport disruptions struck the key southern industrial center of Guangzhou last month, forcing authorities to double shipments to the region.

However, Chinese experts also said refiners were being squeezed by government restrictions on raising pump prices at the same time as they have been forced to pay record-high prices for crude on world markets. Refiners are thought to be reluctant to operate at full capacity with profit margins so thin at home, giving them additional incentives to sell abroad.
(31 August 2005)

Charting the long road to hydrogen power

Patrick Hoge, SF Chronicle
Refueling infrastructure for gaseous element holds key to adoption of fuel, experts say
With oil prices hovering at record highs Tuesday, a group of automobile manufacturers, energy producers, academics and government regulators gathered at UC Berkeley to ponder one possible alternative to gasoline.

Their consensus: Hydrogen, a gas derived from water, holds perhaps the greatest potential for replacing oil as the lifeblood of the world economy — but not for years, possibly decades.
(31 August 2005)
No comment — just silent weeping.-BA