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Train rolls into China's mysterious "no man's land"


10:12, November 30, 2012

LOP NUR, Xinjiang, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- A train entered Lop Nur in remote northwest China on Thursday, marking the operation of the first railway connecting the sparsely-populated region to the rest of China.

Lop Nur still holds the mystery of the disappearance of Loulan, an ancient Silk Road civilization, in the third century. It was also the site of China's first atomic bomb test in 1964.

Since its lake dried up in the 1970s, the 10,000 square-kilometer area has become a vast salt-encrusted lake bed with an abundance of potassium-rich salt and non-ferrous metals, according to geologists.

Prior to the operation of the railway, Lop Nur's only link to the rest of the country was a six-year-old highway.

The 374.8-km railway is widely considered vital for accelerating the mining of the abundant potassium-rich salt in the region to boost the country's ability to meet its own fertilizer demand.

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