China warns of ‘dangerous’ methane leakage from coal mines
China has warned of “dangerous” methane leaks from coal mining sites, warning that such leaks are increasing and could endanger the environment and the health of those living in the area.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection issued the statement on Friday as the world’s largest coal producer was being held to account for its failure to ensure the safety of its workers.
According to a report from Reuters, a senior official in the ministry said on Friday that the country’s biggest coal mine had a “large volume of methane and other hazardous gases”.
The ministry’s warning comes as the United States and China have agreed to take further steps to reduce the emissions of methane from coal-fired power plants.
The coal industry has been the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the US, but coal-burning has become a key source of greenhouse gas pollution in China, where the country has the world largest coal reserves.
China has been facing mounting pressure to reduce its emissions, especially after the country announced on Friday it would spend $1bn to build a massive dam in the Yangtze river in northern China to stop the discharge of toxic substances into the river.
The Yangtzze dam, which is part of the proposed $4.5bn Yushu river-bank dam, will be China’s largest.
According on Friday, the dam will contain 1,200 megawatts of electricity and could be operational by 2020.
Reuters reported that the dam is a major step toward reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal plants, as China has pledged to limit the amount of CO2 released from power plants and increase efforts to improve air quality in cities.
The ministry said the methane leakage would “impact the quality of water and other aquatic environments and may cause environmental damage to the environment”.
The statement comes as coal mining giant Pangang Coal Corp (Pangang), which operates five coal mines in China’s north-eastern Shanxi province, said it would begin pumping methane into the Yushan river in 2020, adding that the leak would affect the river’s “quality”.
Pangeng said the company was working to reduce methane emissions, while Pangeng is also building a plant that can convert methane to electricity.
“We are also working to control methane leakage in the Yubin, Yushang and Shandong rivers, and to improve the quality and resilience of the water,” the statement said.
“Our actions will improve the health and safety of the people living in our regions,” the company said.
China and the US have been at loggerheads over the future of coal mining, with US President Donald Trump threatening to scrap the Paris climate agreement in March.
China’s coal imports are at a historic high.
In December, the US Commerce Department said US coal imports rose by an average of 23 percent in 2017, with China accounting for more than half the increase.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) said in December that the US imports were down 2 percent in 2018.
In January, China said it was considering a possible $2.5 billion plan to boost the countrys coal industry and boost domestic coal production.