Alpine meadows disappear under opencast mines in northwest China - China Dialogue
China’s growing demand for coal is causing worsening air pollution and using up scarce water resources, say campaigners. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace
Energy

Alpine meadows disappear under opencast mines in northwest China

Chinese coal companies have been illegally digging up alpine meadows, according to a Greenpeace investigation, damaging a fragile ecology and exacerbating water scarcity

A giant coal mine near the Qilian mountains in northwest China is illegally encroaching on a nature reserve at the source of the Yellow River, according to a Greenpeace investigation.

“This huge coal mine dug into the birthplace of China’s mother river is arguably the most shocking example of the threat coal poses to the country’s water supply,” says Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Li Shuo.

“China’s growing hunger for coal is not only fuelling the cycle of air pollution crises plaguing the country’s largest cities, it’s also using up enormous amounts of water, threatening whole regions with water shortages and desertification.

“The Beijing authorities have shown a strong determination in tackling the smog emergency triggered by coal fumes – now they need to display the same resolve in protecting the country’s water reserves from this destructive industry.”

This opencast coal mine is owned by the Kingho Group in Muli. Opencast mining has left a huge pit in the alpine meadows close to the snowfields of the Qilian Mountains. The picture was taken on 21st June, 2014. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace
As a result of opencast coal mining in the area, permafrost is melting and grassland along transport roads is subsiding. The picture was taken on 21st June, 2014. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace
The China Kingho coal-chemical plant in Wulan County, is built on the Chahannuo wetland, at an altitude of about 3700 m. The picture was taken on 22nd June, 2014. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace
China’s growing demand for coal is causing worsening air pollution and using up scarce water resources, say campaigners. The picture was taken on 21st June, 2014. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace
The Datong River Basin close to the Jiangcang mine, provides large quantities of water to the Yellow River. The picture was taken on 21st June, 2014. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace
Jiangcang mine is situated at 4000 mt above sea level, 31 km away from Muli, in the Datong River Basin. Since the exploitation of opencast coal mines along the Datong River began, the local environment has been destroyed, with large quantities of high calorific value coal transported away on a daily basis. The picture was taken on 21st June, 2014. ©Wu Haitao/Greenpeace