It was five o'clock in the morning and train number 1486 from Chengdu had just arrived at the station at Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province. Among the passengers were dozens of rural workers from the densely populated province of Sichuan. They come to this northern province, known as China's Coal Capital, to find work at some of the province's more than 5,000 mines - the same mines that in the months of June and July, claimed over 100 lives. 'I am going to Datong to look for a mining job,' said a labourer from Sichuan as he got off the 1486 train. When asked if he was afraid of the dangers, the man simply replied: 'I need a job.' The allure of working in a dangerous coal mine for these men is clear. They come not only from Sichuan but places all over the country. With little or no jobs available back home and the relatively high pay - around 1,000 yuan a month, death from working in a mine is a risk worth taking. For the local mine owners, this flood of out-of-town labourers is a welcome sight. 'Whenever I need miners, I just go to the train station and pick then up,' one mine owner said. The reason is many local Shanxi residents refuse to work in the mines because of the danger. Also, since many of the out-of-towners are poor peasants from far away places, injuries and deaths can easily be covered up. One example is June's Fanzhi gold mining explosion in which the owners tried to cover up the deaths of 37 miners, 27 from Sichuan. Within minutes of their arrival, many of the soon-to-be miners have boarded buses sending them to coal mining regions such as Datong, Luan, Jincheng, and Lingshi. Within days, they will be in dark tunnels digging for coal and other minerals. They face not only the possibility of death from a collapsing or an exploding mine but also hardship and abuse. They are given minimal housing, usually just a pitched tent, which is inadequate, particularly during Shanxi's long, cold, winters. They also have to provide their own food, spending around 300 yuan to 400 yuan a month. Aside from the poor living arrangements, the out-of-town miners are often not paid for their work. 'We are going home to Henan. We are not making any money, not even 500 yuan [a month]. The mine owner is not paying us,' said a man carrying his belongings and walking along the train tracks in the southern mining city of Lingshi. He said he had just left an illegal mine. In addition to the possibility of not getting paid, the miners are under the constant watch of local village guards who make sure the out-of-towners do not leave the site without permission or talk to people, particularly investigators or journalists. Dozens of mainland journalists have been threatened in their attempts to expose illegal mines and mine accidents. 'What are you doing here?' asked a local guard when a couple of miners were approached on a road near the coal-mining city of Gujiao. 'There are no miners here. Go away,' the man shouted. Another danger the out-of-town miners face is murder. According to residents in Lingshi city, nine were killed last year by local residents. The murderers tried to use the deaths to extort money from the mine owner by claiming a mine explosion killed the workers. Police arrested 24 local people over the incident. On top of all this, the out-of-town miners now face growing competition for jobs. Wang Jingping, a 49-year-old labourer from Hubei who worked at an illegal mine that has been closed, said: 'The government has closed many mines. It is getting harder to find work.' In the past few years, thousands of Shanxi's mines have been shut down as part of the government's reform of state-owned enterprises and a mine safety campaign. Xinhua reported the province has closed more than 5,000 mines, affecting as many as 400,000 coal miners. The closures mean more miners seeking fewer jobs. As a result of last month's Fanzhi county explosion in which 37 people died in an illegal mine, Xinhua reported authorities shut down dozens of mines and ordered more than 10,000 migrant miners to go home. Despite the dangers, there are more than enough people willing to work in the mines. As a 50-year-old former local miner who touts hotel rooms at the exit of the Taiyuan train station, said: 'These out-of-towners keep on coming every day.'