China has announced plans to close more than 4,800 small coal mines in an effort to reduce the number of mining accidents.

State Administration of Coal Mine Safety head Zhao Tiechui said Monday that about 2,600 mines will close by the end of this year, with 2,200 more closing in 2007.

Despite government efforts to close small mines, the official Xinhua news agency reports China still has some 17,000 of them in operation. The small mines account for one-third of China's coal production, but two-thirds of the industry's accidents.

According to Xinhua's figures, Chinese mines have already reported 2,900 deaths in more than 1,800 accidents in the first eight months of 2006.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.