The Chinese government pledged to invest RMB 2.2 billion (US$265 million) in 2004 to enhance safety at the nation’s coalmines. China’s coalmines are notoriously unsafe, with constant reports in the media on deadly explosions. The money will be used to upgrade methane gas discharge systems as the government aims to encourage use of the gas as an energy resource.
Currently the majority of coal bed methane is expelled into the atmosphere where it is a major contributor to global warming. The output of coal in China reached 1.3 billion tons in 2002 and should surpass 1.5 billion tons for 2003.