Coal Mine Safety Regulation in China and the USA

TitleCoal Mine Safety Regulation in China and the USA
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsHomer, A. W.
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Pagination424 - 439
KeywordsChina, coal, coal mine, mine safety, mining, safety

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the USA are, by long measure, the world’s largest producers and consumers of coal. Coal production is inherently risky, and fatalities are unavoidable in these large coal economies. Both countries have developed complex systems of law to regulate coal mine safety. These systems share many attributes. Despite similarities between the separate systems of mining law, the PRC significantly trails the USA in terms of coal mine safety. Due to large disparity in economic development, it may be inappropriate to compare these two countries. However, the PRC’s mine safety record is significantly worse than that of other large producers who are similarly underdeveloped. It appears that the PRC has failed to effectively implement its mining safety laws. Several arguments have been made as to the cause of this failure, including lack of judicial review of agency actions, lack of meaningful trade unions, government corruption and geographical difficulties of controlling rural mines with a central government. This article explores similarities and differences between the coal economies of the USA and PRC, and introduces some of the arguments used to explain the gap in safety.