It’s the deadliest job in China, sending hundreds of thousands of workers underground each day to dig coal from mines that one labor-rights group has labeled slaughterhouses.
The flooding of a coal mine in Guizhou Province just last week is the latest in an almost constant string of accidents in China. Such mishaps, along with the renewed attention to mining safety in the United States, has built momentum here for action by authorities.
Yet even as the Chinese government pledges more strict safety regulations – vowing again this week to reduce the country’s staggering annual count of nearly 6,000 coal-mining deaths – demand is increasing for energy production in the world’s fastest-growing major economy. With greater demand comes not safer mines, activists and researchers warn, but bigger, deadlier disasters.