A blast at a state-owned coal mine in Shanxi over the weekend could cause Beijing to order stringent safety checks that could affect China’s coal output and raise coal prices, the Wall Street Journal reported. Analysts say China has been facing a coal surplus of more than 50 million tons this year, but that could change if some mines are forced to close temporarily or permanently. Beijing has long pledged to improve safety at its coal mines, and last year shut more than 1,000 mines it considered unsafe. But the figure of 3,200 deaths last year, while representing a 15% decline from 2007, means the country’s coal mines remain the world’s deadliest. Prior to the blast, analysts believed coal prices in China were set for a sustained period of weakness due to falling demand from power plants and other industries. Coal mines scheduled to resume output after annual checks, and lower heating demand after winter were also expected to weigh on prices.