In one of the largest lay-offs in history, China has announced plans to axe 1.8 million workers in the coal and steel industries.
The cuts are part of the country’s plans to deal with a slowing growth in the coal industry, as well as deadly air pollution caused by mining.
According to an article by Reuters, Minister for Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin told a news conference that 1.3 million workers in the coal sector could lose jobs, as well as 500,000 from the steel sector.
“This involves the resettlement of a total of 1.8 million workers. This task will be very difficult, but we are still very confident,” Yin said.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s coal and steel industries employ about 12 million workers, which means the cuts will see about 15 per cent of the workforce disappear.
The top priority for China has been keeping unemployment under control,with the government official announcing last week they will be allocating 100 billion yuan ($21.4 billion) over two years to relocate workers laid off as a result of China’s efforts to curb overcapacity.
The country also announced plans to close more than 1000 mines this year.
In a notice posted on its website last week, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said the closures would form part of the plan released earlier this month to shut as much as 500 million tonnes of surplus production capacity within the next three to five years.
Earlier this year, China announced it will not approve any new proposed coal mines until at least 2019.