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Coalfield Curbs Ecological Deterioration

Tree and grass planting has gone abreast with the 1985 operation of the Shenfu-Dongsheng coalfield, and accordingly turned the former “black triangle area” bare of plants into a “green triangle”.

An appraisement group composed of China’s forestry and environment experts have come to this conclusion after a recent inspection of China’s largest coalfield.

Located in the southeastern part of Mu Us Shamo desert, Shenfu-Dongsheng coalfield straddles over the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. No one could ever imagine it was once a mountain barely covered by sand where wind, sand and rainfall were the most impressive “scenery”.

Documents say that only 15 years ago, the Shenfu-Dongsheng coalfield suffered from strong gales for at least 30 days annually. Some 80 percent of the coalfield area was affected by wind and water erosion.

The only river crossing the coalfield washed away 24 million tons of sand into the Yellow River every year to become the major “contributor” to the worsening silting of the country’s mother river.

A report issued by the appraisement group says that compared with 15 years ago, the windy days in winter and summer have been reduced by 75 percent. The water and wind eroded area has been reduced by two-thirds, and the sand flow volume has dropped by 15 million tons annually.

Improvement of the environment has promoted the coalfield production and agriculture around the coalfield area as well. The report notes that about 2 million yuan (about US$241,000) has been saved every year as implementation of projects on sand clearing and restoring water-eroded projects.

About 36 million yuan has gone to the coalfield’s environmental protection over the past 15 years, sources said.

Statistics also show that over 10,000 hectares of land were planted with trees in the same period, the green coverage rate has risen from the 10 percent a decade before to the current 50 percent, and the water-erosion is under control.

Shenfu-Dongsheng coalfield is one of the world’s eight largest coalfields, with proven coal reserves of over 230 billion tons, accounting for 25 percent of the country’s total. Since its operation, a total of 10 billion yuan (about US$ 1.2 billion) has been invested, with raw coal output reaching 20 million tons.

(Xinhua 07/06/2001)

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