Australia Safety coal Mine project to expand

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Minister for resources and energy Martin Ferguson and China’s minister of state administration, Luo Lin, have celebrated the success of the Australia-China Mine Safety Demonstration Project.

The project is a commitment between China, Australia, and Xaundong No.2 mine operator, The Zhiangjiakou Mining Group, to showcase safety management methods and technologies.

China has a long history of safety issues at its mines; last year recording 2433 deaths in coal mining alone, a rate of almost six miners per day.

According to Government documents published earlier this month China has set a 2015 target to reduce coal mining deaths by more than 28%.

However there are fears that by increasing safety standards, it may slow exports.

"Some production may suffer because of increased safety concerns, especially in the south where a lot of these accidents happened," according to China Coal transport and distribution association director David Fang.

Currently, Australia has agreed to provide up to $5 million for the project which aims to increase coal mine safety in the country.

Ferguson welcomed the recognition by those involved that the health and safety of miners is central to the coal industry.

“Safety management must be integrated into every aspect of a mine operation from the initial planning and mine design, through the mine construction and production phases, to final mine closure. It must also underpin the regulation of mine safety and the approach of safety regulators,” he aid.

"Ths project has provided a valuable opportunity for us to share some of our experience and knowledge on these issues with our Chinese mining colleagues."

His comments came as Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd reiterated Australia and China’s dependence on one another.

Rudd said Australia was shifting its economic focus from “the old world” following Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.

“We have more at stake in China – and China has more at stake in Australia – than either country has with many other partners,” he stated.

The coal mine safety team will return to Xuandong next year to assess how the longer term safety outcomes have developed.