The death toll in China's coal mines last year was 91,172, down 15.1 percent from 2007, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said Tuesday.
It was the first time since 1995 the figure fell below 100,000,the chief work safety regulator said.
The number of accidents fell 19.3 percent to 413,700 in 2008.
The death rate in coal mine accidents, per 1 million tonnes of coal produced, dropped 20.4 percent year-on-year to 1.182, SAWS also said.
The latter figure was previously disclosed by Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang in a teleconference earlier in January.
Zhao Tiechui, senior SAWF official in charge of coal mine supervision, attributed the improvements to government efforts to shut illegal mines and toughen enforcement.
China closed 1,054 illegal coal mines in 2008, but government figures show almost 80 percent of the country's 16,000 mines are illegal.
Zhao urged work safety supervisors nationwide to work harder on accident prevention this year.