Faced with a huge oversupply of coal and a lagging coal industry, the State Council has decided to close 25,800 coal mines and cut coal production by 250 million tonnes. The coal industry in the mainland has been facing a lot of trouble again this year. During the first three quarters of this year, the coal industry lost 3.75 billion yuan (about HK$3.48 billion), down from 4.43 billion yuan in profits during the same period last year. Even though August's coal production of 85.04 million tonnes was 8 per cent less than in the same period last year, coal sits waiting in stockpiles. Illegal coal mines and those that did not meet the production standards were to be closed by the end of next year and all of the small mines would have been given their closing notices by June, the Workers Daily said. In order to recover the losses, the National Coal Bureau has said it will abide by a policy of grabbing the large and getting rid of the small. The mines to be closed fall into three categories - mines without proper operating licences; mines that acquired their licences prior to 1997 but not their coal production permits; and mines with the required permits but are located in areas that will interfere with the production of state-owned mines.