China will force collieries to plant trees, boost efficiency, cut down noise and seal off facilities from the outside world as part of a new “green mining” plan aimed at curbing pollution, according to a policy document published on Wednesday. In a comprehensive list of new rules covering coal, metals and chemicals, as well as oil and gas, the Ministry of Land and Resources said all newly built mines would be forced to meet green requirements immediately, while existing mines will also have to “upgrade” facilities. The documents, published in conjunction with the environment and finance ministries as well as China’s securities and product quality watchdogs, said coal firms would be forced to construct “garden-style” mines with trees planted wherever possible in mining areas.
“A completely closed management system covering the production, transportation and storage of coal will be implemented so that ‘coal is extracted but not seen’,” the document added.The ambitious plans contrast with past practice in China where high prices and soaring demand encouraged coal miners to build thousands of mines with little heed to safety or the surrounding environment.Regulators are now aiming to bring more order to the sector, which accounts for around two thirds of total primary energy use and three quarters of all power generation, curbing overcapacity and illegal production and tackling air and water pollution.
China’s smog-prone capital Beijing has already shut down all its coal-fired power stations, while the surrounding province of Hebei has promised to shut 51 million tonnes of annual coal production over the 2016-2020 period.The land ministry said raw coal washing rates would be raised to 100 percent at new mines, while waste water recovery rates would be brought above 85 percent.
Coal mines would be forced to set up dedicated research and development platforms funded with no less than 1 percent of the mine’s income in the previous year, and will have to address training for workers and work-related illnesses. The rules will also compel metallurgical miners to set up specialist storage sites for tailings to prevent them from contaminating local land and water supplies.