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China agrees to close 2,000 smaller mines

China has pledged to shut down at least 2,000 small coal mines by the end of 2015 as it tries to improve safety standards in its deadly industry.

Mines targeted will be those with an annual output of less than 90,000 tons that fail to adhere to safety rules, and those based on substandard coal resources that are prone to accidents, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, said in a statement Saturday.

Approval will also end for new coal mines with an annual capacity of less than 300,000 tons.

Accidents are common in China’s mines, which are the deadliest in the world. According to the official Xinhua News Agency, 1,384 people were killed in coal mine accidents in 2012, and two-thirds of accidents each year are in small mines.

Safety improvements have reduced deaths in recent years, but regulations are still often ignored.

China has deep reserves of coal and 12,000 coal mines.

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