Energy-thirsty China Saturday started exploration of its first offshore coal mine, in eastern Shandong Province.
Experts with the Shandong Longkuang Group said the underwater coal mine, located about five kilometers away from the coast of Longkou city in eastern Shandong, has a proven reserve of 1.29 billion tons of coal.
It is the first offshore coal mine in China. According to the company, the first phrase of digging will be done at the field 350 meters below sea level, stretching 150 meters. The deposit there is expected to turn out 89,200 tons of coal.
Representatives from the company said they had set up a sophisticated safety surveillance system and acquired the technology to prevent sea water flooding. It is said most domestic companies fail to meet the strict safety requirement for such exploitation.
Earlier discovery data released from Longkou marine research team showed the deposit is part of the coal-bearing basin formed in the Cenozoic Era with six coal layers available for mining.
It covers an area of 150 square kilometers, and is between 67 meters and 278 meters thick with geological reserves, the data said.
Poor safety measures and the country's energy pressure make China's land coal mines an extremely dangerous place to work. State work safety authorities reported a total of 3,639 fatal coal mine accidents last year, killing 6,027 coal mine workers.