China’s biggest coal mine reportedly under scrutiny as it becomes the target of a major coal mine safety investigation
Posted On July 24, 2021
A major coal mining company in central China is under investigation by authorities for potentially causing “serious” environmental problems as the country’s largest copper mine becomes the focus of a nationwide probe.
Chenhua Group, the state-owned mining company with a $US1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) operating profit, is in the process of being investigated by a Beijing-based watchdog agency for allegedly failing to properly maintain and protect the company’s “commodities mine,” a reference to the mines located in western China.
The investigation follows a May 2014 report by China’s Environmental Protection Ministry that cited safety concerns over the coal mine’s management, ventilation, and environmental monitoring.
Citing an ongoing safety investigation, the report said Chenhua’s management had failed to maintain “adequate ventilation, equipment and maintenance.”
“The mine’s main facilities, the mine shafts and water supply facilities are all hazardous,” the report continued, citing an April 2014 inspection.
“In addition, the mining company’s mining equipment, which was in good condition at the time of the inspection, has been used only twice during the inspection and no mining equipment was in the mine.”
Chenhuag Group has a long history of environmental issues.
In 2015, it became the first company to become subject to a landmark environmental law that required Beijing to improve the quality of its air and water, including in coal mines.
Chernhuag also came under fire in 2015 for the alleged misuse of coal at its Shanxi mine, which the government said had caused more than 1,000 deaths and 1.3 million illnesses.
According to the environmental watchdog agency, the company had used a system of water treatment facilities in the Shanxi Mine to dispose of waste coal.
In 2014, the Chinese government began a $2 billion ($2.5 billion) environmental remediation program for the Shanxion mine, and China’s top environmental official has been pressing Chenhuag to improve its environmental practices.
In May 2014, China’s National Environmental Protection Administration (NEPA) issued a new “rescue” order that ordered Chenhuags management to improve water quality and conduct a comprehensive environmental audit of its coal mine operations.
A report released by the NEPA in May 2015 found that the coal mining industry had failed in its responsibility to protect the environment.
The agency said Chenhuagu Group had failed “to maintain sufficient ventilation, ventilation equipment and other facilities that would provide adequate ventilation and ventilation equipment” to the mine, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The report found that at least 10 of the 16 ventilation systems that Chenhuaig had at the ShanXion mine had been used and some were “unused.”
The mine also had “notificational equipment” that was not functional, according to the report.
The NEPA said the mine’s ventilation system had been “poorly constructed” and was “underused,” and that “a poor water management system, including insufficient drainage system, ventilation system, and storage tank, contributed to the problem.”
Chernuag Group had also failed to “immediately implement a comprehensive plan” for cleaning the coal dust it had collected from the mine.
The mine also was cited for failing to provide a proper safety and security plan for the mine when it opened in 2002, according the NEAPA.
In 2012, the agency reported that it had received an “environmental health report” from Chenhuaga that indicated the mine had “significant risk of contamination from pollution sources.”CENPA also noted that Chenhua Group had “failed to conduct and implement a plan to control air pollution, improve ventilation and improve the mine ventilation system” as well as the company “failed” to provide “a plan to ensure proper monitoring of air quality.”
In May 2015, Chenhuaiag signed a deal with the government to establish a “comprehensive environmental control plan,” but CEPA found that it “failed in its obligations under the Coal Mining Law.”
Cenga Group, a major Chinese coal miner with a market value of about $US2 billion, was also under scrutiny after the report was released.
Cengag Group and Cenga have a long track record of environmental violations, including the Tianjin mine that collapsed in March 2016 and the Yangtze mine that spilled 300 million tons of toxic heavy metals into the Tian River.
According the report, the Tianmen mine was “the second-largest coal mine in the world” when it was opened, “with a revenue of $US8.8 million ($10.2 million).”
“The coal mine has a total of 1,814,000 tons of coal and an area of 4,400 square kilometers,” CEPA said in its findings.
“The mine has an annual emissions rate of 13 million metric tons per year, which is significantly higher than other mines in the country.”
Censorship at work: