Mining leaves thousands on shaky ground

09:11, June 30, 2010      

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More than 100,000 people across 49 villages in Jining, Shandong Province, have been forced to flee their homes in order to avoid being sucked into the earth.

The culprit is excessive coal mining operations that leave the ground below homes hollow and dangerous.

As a result, many have had to relocate to safer homes ever since the early 1990s due to unstable land.

Liu Xuping, director of the land and resources bureau in Jining, one of 13 major coal mining areas in China that has an annual capacity of 90 million tons, told Beijing Evening News that 350,000 mu (23,333 hectares) of land have sank since 1990s.

He expects 30,000 mu will become unstable each year.
Experts believe excessive mining, which disrupt underground water levels, is the main reason for the problem.

Liu Xianshui, the bureau's deputy director, said 700,000 mu might sink by 2020, and the area will spread to 4 million mu this century, meaning 5 million farmers will lose their land.

At least 500 million yuan ($73 million) are lost due to the problem.
People living in the area said they are frustrated.

"Villagers are forced to move to other places that do not have coal under the ground. The phenomenon started more than 10 years ago," Song Qi, a local resident, told the Global Times Tuesday. "Villagers could not live in houses with so many cracks."

Song said the local government uses coal ash and other solid wastes to reinforce empty mines.

"However, the coal ash is not cheap. It cost 60 to 70 yuan per ton. The government only fills large coal mines," Song said, adding the government has given villagers some compensation.

Villager Bian Wenjie told the newspaper that each of her family had about three mu, but it has been slashed to half mu due to the mining.
Some rivers have dried up and electricity facilities were damaged.

Officials have covered 3,000 mu with soil and rocks, the report said.
Deputy director Liu said they would work on 248,800 mu by 2020, and restore 115,900 mu of farmland.

The local land and resources bureau did not respond to questions about the problem raised by the Global Times Tuesday.

Source:Global Times


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