Chinese Guangdong will close all coal mines

Southern China's Guangdong province will cease all coal mining, state media reported Friday, following a disaster that killed 123 people in August.

The report comes amid renewed pledges to adopt tough measures to regulate the country's coal industry, which has long suffered from lax standards and high fatality rates, according to the AP.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Guangdong authorities decided to cease operations at 141 mines.

They would join the 112 facilities already shut down because they lacked appropriate safety certificates, the agency said.

Total coal production in Guangdong amounted to 8 million tons last year, Xinhua said, accounting for less than 1 percent of China's overall coal output.

In August, 123 miners were killed when a flood swept through the province's Daxing Coal Mine, provoking an outcry over the government's failure to fully enforce safety standards at the local level.

The owner of that mine, Zeng Yungao, was arrested on Sept. 12, Xinhua said Friday in a separate report, citing Song Qinchuan, prosecutor for Xingning city, where the mine is located.

Another 16 people were also arrested in connection with the disaster, the report said.

Meanwhile, Li Yizhong, head of the country's Work Safety Administration, has vowed to crack down on unsafe mining operations, the state-run newspaper Beijing Youth Daily reported Friday.

It said authorities might fine violators up to 10 million yuan (US$1.25 million; euro1million).

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with thousands of deaths reported each year in fires, floods and other disasters.

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