Deaths reported from mining accidents in China have plunged since the start of the millennium,
Rescue efforts were under way at the mine in the city of Qitaihe, located on the border with Siberia. The blaze was reported to have broken out near the site late Tuesday.
Coal recycling and mining are the major industries of Qitaihe, the smallest prefecture-level city in Heilongjiang province.
Big cities “conduct security checks more frequently and take them more seriously than small cities,” a local coal bureau official told the state-run Global Times newspaper earlier this month after a gas explosion trapped and killed 33 miners in the south-western region of Chongqing.
Deaths reported from mining accidents in China have plunged since the start of the millennium: 1,049 miners died at work in 2013 whereas 598 died in 2015, according to the State Administration of Work Safety.
However, there are doubts about the accuracy of official figures, as well as the role played by reduced coal production.
China is the world’s biggest consumer and producer of coal.
Coal production was 3.68 billion tons in 2015, or 47 per cent of the world’s total, according to the China National Coal Association.