"Some government officials colluded with owners,'' he said. "Also, some local governments developed countermeasures against policies from higher levels and acted as protectors of illegal activities.''
 
Managerial indifference to safety has also been linked to deaths in what is regarded as the world's deadliest mining industries.
 
Investigations show that some of the deadliest mine accidents were the result of managers flouting safety rules, which are often ignored to maximize profit and boost productivity.
 
Prosecutions
 
Li said in a report on China’s deadliest mining accidents since 2005 that two local officials and six managers of the Qitaihe accident, which killed 171 miners after coal dust caught fire, had been prosecuted.
 
He gave no further details.
 
Li said that in all, 45 officials have been fired and 117 prosecuted for corruption, dereliction or other offences since late 2005.
 
More than 2,500 small and unsafe mines have been shut within the same period.
 
Li said he expected about the same number of closures next year and that they will not impact economic growth.
 
Coal prices are high and national coal output is still expected to rise more than eight per cent this year, said Li.
 
Last month an explosion triggered by a gas build-up at a mine in central Shanxi province killed 24 miners, a day after accidents at two other Chinese mines left at least 53 dead.