Probe of Kemerovo Coal Mines Starts Monday

Authorities on Monday will start a month-long inspection of safety standards at Siberian coal mines, where accidents have killed more than 150 miners in the past 16 months.

The country's technical watchdog said Friday that it would invite specialists from different government and scientific bodies to carry out the checks in the Kemerovo region. Those who break safety standards will be punished.

"Particular attention will be paid to ventilation, degassing and the prevention of coal dust explosions," the watchdog, the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Inspection, said in a statement.

Analysts said the safety inspections would ultimately be positive for coal prices, which have already risen to records, as the closure of unsafe mines would tighten supply further.

Large, responsible coal miners active in Kemerovo, such as Raspadskaya, Mechel, Belon Group and Kuzbassrazrezugol, would also stand to benefit, they said.

"Coal companies that don't invest in technical improvements, health and safety and infrastructure will sooner or later be squeezed out of the market," said Yury Vlasov, a mining analyst at Renaissance Capital. "This will lead to certain shrinkage of supply, which will be very beneficial for the remaining producers that do a proper job in terms of maintaining their safety record."