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Global Issue Essay

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Jonas Houseright
MinE 4554
February 22, 2011

Safety and Health Issues in the China Coal Mining Industry

The country of China is a world juggernaut in the industry of coal mining. China alone produces roughly one-third of the world economy’s coal. This is largely due to the industrial revolution that has been taking place in China over the past decade which requires a very high energy demand, but being on top of the world production of coal has come with a colossal price. Not only is China leading the world in production for coal, but it also leads the world in coal mining related fatalities.

The death toll in China coal mines over the past decade has accounted for nearly 80% of the total deaths related to coal miners around the world (Xiaohui). Most of these deaths can be contributed to a two main sources, these sources being dust exposure and methane explosions. The biggest killer of these two sources is dust exposure followed by the methane explosions.

The continued exposure to coal dust can cause a disease known as pneumoconiosis, more commonly known as black lung disease. In China, nearly 2.7 million coal miners are exposed to dust. Of these 2.7 million, it is estimated that 57,000 miners will suffer from pneumoconiosis each year. Ultimately, 6,000 of those affected by pneumoconiosis will die each year. In 2009, roughly 1,600 coal miners were killed in accidents (Magistad). Even though it is a large number, it is nowhere as staggering as the 6,000 that were estimated to die from the black lung disease. (“57,000 Chinese”)

Methane explosions are the second leading killer of Chinese coal miners. These can be attributed to mine operators wanting to produce more coal then they have been approved for per year. In 2004, the Daping coal mine that had been approved for an annual capacity of 900,000 tons, had mined 960,000 tons through September of that year. The mine had a methane ignition on October 20, 2004 which ended up fatally injuring...

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