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Agency sets new rules for safety in coal mines

(China Daily)

10:54, August 22, 2011

BEIJING - China's top workplace safety regulator is introducing national standards for safety technologies used in the country's accident-plagued coal mines.

A set of four standards on polymeric materials used for coal mining safety will take effect on Dec 1, according to the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).

The standards are related to the prevention of coal mine accidents, including methane gas blasts, underground floods and shaft collapses, by using high-technology polymeric materials, Jiang Zhimin, the secretary-general of the China National Coal Association, said on Sunday at a conference to introduce the standards.

Polymeric materials, a group of chemical compounds that are in liquid or foam states, are mainly used for four functions that are covered by the standards: water shut-off, filling and sealing of mine structures, ventilation sealing and consolidation of coal and rock.

The four functions are related to the prevention of mine floods, shaft collapses and fire accidents.

Introduced in China from Western countries in the 1970s, these chemicals have found widespread use in domestic coal mines in the past five years.

As of the end of 2010, there were more than 30 producers of these polymeric materials in China, employing nearly 3,000 workers and professionals, said Zhang Nong, a mine expert from the China University of Mining and Technology.

Sales of the materials totaled about 1.2 billion yuan ($188 million) nationwide in 2010.

However, the absence of national standards for these chemicals has aroused concern at some mines.

"The number of producers has increased in recent years," said Ni Jianming, a senior engineer with the Huaibei Coal Mining Group Co Ltd. "But the quality of the products is mixed and quality problems have caused some accidents."

Producers of the polymeric materials must ensure that there are no safety flaws in their products, said Huang Yi, spokesman for SAWS.

"The administration will perfect the system of coal mine safety standards," he said.

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