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China to close 5000 coal mines to improve safety

China plans to shut down 5,000 unsafe small coal mines by the end of next year as part of a major government push to improve the industry's safety standards, state media said on Monday.
2,652 mines will be closed by the end of this year and an additional 2,209 mines will be shut down in 2007, said Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

Despite the government's efforts to crack down on small, unsafe coal mines, there are still 17,000 of them across the country, accounting for one-third of China's coal production but two-thirds of deaths in the industry, said Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese government aims to cut the number of small mines to less than 10,000 in the next few years, Xinhua said.

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