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This presentation described the case of Township and Village coal mines in China. Over the period 1970 to 1996 there had been considerable growth. By the mid 1990s there were 80,000 mines, employing 2-4 million people and producing 600 M tonnes per annum. However, many small-scale mines were illegal. This position led to a closure programme from 1998 to 2001. The aims were (a) to protect major state owned coal mines and (b) to improve management of the small-scale mines. Officially the targets were achieved but there would have been 2 million jobs lost; £1 billion lost revenue but no compensation or schemes to promote alternative livelihoods were introduced.
The author predicted that output was set to continue rising, laws and regulations would change but there would be political tensions and conflicts of interest. The benefits of small-scale mines are that they contribute to energy needs and employment whilst reducing the infrastructure transport requirements. However, these were offset by the waste of resources, environmental damage, health & safety, and distortion of the market. The author concluded by described the legal, institutional and political obstacles to solving the problems.
(Dr Philip Andrews-Speed, University of Dundee - 12 January 2005)
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