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YINCHUAN - The largest coal chemical operation in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region has launched a campaign to clean up more than 120 small and disorderly coal storage fields.
The Ningdong Energy and Chemical Industry Base, one of China"s largest coal production bases and a coal-to-chemical industry base, is located close to Shaanxi province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, areas with large coal deposits.
Since last year, it has shut down 127 disorderly coal fields that occupied over 533 hectares. More than 2 million metric tons of coal has been cleaned and 90 percent of the construction above ground has been dismantled.
The coal fields were a major logistical base that stored coal from the local area and Inner Mongolia, and then loaded it onto trucks to send to local fire power plants, boilers and consumers in Yunnan and Jiangsu provinces. Annual turnover was 25 million tons, totaling 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion).
Construction of the Ningdong Energy and Chemical Industry Base began in 2003 and is now home to around 130 enterprises. Gross industrial output value reached 117 billion yuan in 2017.
The fields, however, were poorly managed. Most never met environmental requirements. The decision to close them was resisted strongly by the coal field owners, who paid a hefty rent to the villages and created jobs for people living in the area.
"Money from the coal fields helped cover the medical and social insurance costs of the villagers. One of the villages received 4 million yuan a year for leasing out land to coal operators. Every family received a dividend of more than 5,000 yuan," said Yan Xinmin, an official with the base administration.
Yang Jia, general manager of Ningxia Xinwen Energy Technology Co, said he once had to hide from environmental inspectors because he did not have credentials to operate.
Yang was the first to shut down the old coal yard and move his business to a new coal field, a 133-hectare area at the southern part of the base.
Thirty-four companies have been chosen to move their coal storage facilities into the new coal field, which cost 600 million yuan to build.
Ma Sanqing, an official with the base administration, said the villagers will find new jobs and sources of income at the new field, becoming shareholders of a special service company.
"If we have 1,000 trucks every day, the management of the trucks, dining and cleaning services will generate 5 million yuan annually," Ma said.
Yang Fu, head of the Huiminxiang village, said, "It is a necessary step to clean up the old coal yards. We are planning to build parking lots, dining facilities, auto repair shops and other services."
Efforts are underway to clean the black slag and mud that have blocked flood discharge channels. Trees will be planted to restore greenery in the coal fields, Ma said.
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