The blast ripped through the Songlin mine in the southwestern province of Guizhou in the morning when 19 miners were working underground, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Eight of them managed to survive, the report said, adding that rescue operations were ongoing and investigations underway.
The accident came a day after a fire at a coal mine in Liaoning province in the northeast killed 26 people.
China’s mines are among the world’s deadliest because of lax regulation, corruption and poor operating procedures. Safety is often neglected by bosses seeking easy profits and accidents are common.
Last year the country recorded 589 mining-related accidents, which left 1,049 people dead or missing, according to the government.
Both the number of accidents and fatalities were down more than 24 percent from 2012.
But labour rights groups have said the actual death toll is likely to be much higher than official data, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit economic losses and avoid punishment.
Authorities have tried to shut down small mines, a major source of accidents, in an effort to consolidate the industry.
The government plans to close more than 2,000 small coal mines by the end of next year, Xinhua reported in July.
Multiple coal mine accidents have been reported this year.
In June, 22 people were killed in an accident at a coal mine in the southwestern city of Chongqing.
And 20 people died in April when a coal mine in the southwestern province of Yunnan was suddenly flooded, leaving miners trapped.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of coal, relying on it for 65.7 percent of its energy needs last year, according to an earlier Xinhua report. – AFP