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Inner Mongolia May Overtake Shanxi in Coal Reserve
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North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region may replace its neighbor Shanxi Province as the country's largest coal reserve, an official has said.

A major geological survey in the region since June 2004 has led to the discovery of new coalfields which could lift coal reserves by a massive 319 billion tons, said Bai Dun, director of the Inner Mongolia Department of Land and Resources.

With the new finds, the region's coal reserves might break the 500 billion ton mark, which means it would outrank Shanxi Province, the official added.

Inner Mongolia currently ranks second in China in terms of coal reserves with 220 billion tons, nudged out by Shanxi with 250 billion tons.

The region produced 260 million tons of coal in 2005 and produced even more last year, though the exact figure is not yet available, Bai said.

It invested 2.78 billion yuan (US$356 million) last year in geological exploration, doubling the investment between 2001 and 2005, on 170,000 square kilometers of land.

The 6.4-billion-ton Baiyanhua coalfield and five big 10-billion-ton coalfields in Xilin Gol were discovered last year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2007)

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