However, independent labour groups say that the death toll is closer to 20,000 miners annually, as mine operators tend to cover up accidents to avoid costly shut-downs and fines.


A court in north-western China jailed a coal mine boss for 16 years for trying to cover up the death toll in a mine flooding accident in 2006 which killed 56 people.

Officials say small and privately run coal mines that fall short of safety standards account for most of the casualties, but large state-owned mines report the higher death tolls.

Source: Agencies