How a deserted mine pit became a lake of emerald

(Xinhua) 11:08, September 06, 2023

This photo shows the Emerald Lake Mine Forest Park taken on Sept. 3, 2023, in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. (Xinhua/Liu Yujia)

HARBIN, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- In the hills about 35 km southwest of Baoqing County in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, there is a small lake sparkling vivid green in the sunshine, just like an emerald. It's hard to believe it was once an abandoned shale mine pit before seeing the pictures of its past appearance.

In those old pictures, there were no plants, the mountain had collapsed in many places and there was a stark pit tens of meters deep. Looking like wounds in the ground, these ugly scenes also presented geological and ecological risks for the locals.

The situation was caused by the former mine owner's illegal exploration activities, which led to a public interest litigation case of ecological environment destruction and over-exploration of resources.

The government of Baoqing was responsible for the restoration of the original site. But how was this transformation achieved?

"At first, we thought about filling this pit, but it would have required a lot of construction work at a hefty cost," recalled Xu Binyi, Party chief of Baoqing County.

Then we found that sunshine on the water changed its color, said Xu. "So why fill it while we already have such a great pool of water?"

In 2020, the county started the restoration project. They consolidated the slopes to ensure they wouldn't collapse and planted grass and trees on the scarred areas.

After the mud and industrial garbage at the bottom of the pit was cleared, water coming both from underground sources and rain naturally turned the color of the lake either jade or bright blue, depending on the angle of sunshine and because of the rich minerals contained in the water.

The county gradually built facilities including accommodation, restaurants, playgrounds for children, and a camping base around the lake, and so the Emerald Lake Mine Forest Park was formed.

"It's really beautiful," said Wang Junjie, a primary school student on an educational trip in the park. Wang is from Shuangyashan City, where Baoqing County is located.

Since its establishment, the park has received tens of thousands of tourists, providing over 100 jobs for local residents and generating 12 million yuan (about 1.67 million U.S. dollars) in income.

As a successful model of adapting local conditions to restore the ecological system, and transforming a deserted mine into a tourism treasure, the emerald lake is braced for welcoming more visitors from all over the country and beyond to boost rural revitalization.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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