Four people were killed on the spot when a blast rocked the mine in the early hours yesterday. The 16 miners, including four severely injured, are being treated at a local hospital, the spokesman said.
The mine, with maximum output of 300,000 tons of coal a year, is licensed. The cause of the accident is being investigated, he added. China's mining sector witnessed 185 accidents in the first quarter of the year, that led to the deaths of 289 people, the State Administration of Work Safety said last Friday.
Altogether 1,973 miners were killed in colliery accidents last year. Poor safety regulations and a lack of safety awareness are usually blamed for the frequent occurrence of colliery accidents, state-run news agency Xinhua said.
Inner Mongolia holds China's largest coal reserves. It surpassed neighboring Shanxi province to become the largest coal producing region in 2010. Its coal output reached 908 million tonnes in the first 11 months last year, rising 26.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to latest available statistics.