DaTong coal mining, China

Written at SFSU in 2017.
Datong mining area is located in Datong City, southwest of Datong, a city of coal mining and coal industry. With the continuous development of coal resources, the surrounding environment is impacted to varying degrees. The coal mining production and coal consumption creates air and water pollution[1].  I will show the energy injustices of this site acrose through the coal mining at this site occur because of environmental racism and scrifice zones.

An open coal mine in Chifeng , China.


Coal mining on the rise in China, US, India

According to Cohen (2014),  ” as the end of 2014, China had 62 billion tons of anthracite and 52 billion tons of lignite quality coal. China ranks third in the world in terms of total coal reserves behind the United States and Russia”[2].  World Nuclear Association found “Most coal reserves are located in the north and north-west of the country, which poses a large logistical problem for supplying electricity to the more heavily populated coastal areas”[3]. At current levels of production, China has 30 years worth of reserves.

The miner in DaTong, China.

When the factories in China’s coastal areas sell their products to the world, when the city people move into high-rise buildings to acquire new cars, the miners are a group of people who work hard in dangerous environments and create value for society and the family but they have difficult lives[5].

[6] A worker carries a sack of coal, it’s a hard and dirty work but that’s the only job he can find because DaTong whole city is work for the coal.

Coal burning pollution.

In cities China didn’t allowed coal burning indoor any more, but people still using coal to cook at small village. This will cause houses fill with high levels of toxic metals smoke[7].

According to Finkelman et al.,” people eat food cooked over coal fires which contains toxic substances. Toxic substances from coal burning include arsenic, fluorine, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and mercury. Health issues are caused which include severe arsenic poisoning, skeletal fluorosis (over 10 million people afflicted in China), esophageal and lung cancers, and selenium poisoning” (3427) [8].

Effects of Coal Mining on Water Resources in Mining Area.

Coal mines are mainly concentrated in the mouth spring ditch, Yungang ditch and its sides. “Shilihe, Zhiquan ditch for the main water system, but also mine drainage, industrial wastewater and domestic sewage exports”[1].

1)coal mines use a large amount of water also discharge tons of wastewater, resulting in waste of water resources, so that the groundwater resources tense both for coal mining and DaTong city residents[1].
2) During the development of coal mines, groundwater penetrates the coal-bearing strata to penetrate into the lower pit, which reduces the amount of water in the upper aquifer and reduces the water level, which causes the water shortage of the local residents[9].
3) Due to the long-term drainage to form a pit-centered drop funnel, the groundwater level in the mining area is reduced, the amount of well water is reduced, the river runoff is reduced or cut off, thus affecting the normal supply of water downstream of the river[10].
4) Coal mining after mining, underground mined-out area to become water collection space, those place are not stable could cause manmade ground collapse. It will harm for miner and residence[1].

Video from youTube: Creek in Datong China Pollution Issue This scale of coal mining water pollution exemplifies a serious environmental issue at coal mining area.

Environmental Injustice.

China’s econmic is growing so fast today, city like DaTong have to sacrifice their own city to genrate China’s developing engine, China is developing very fast but Datong’s residents and miners have to facing environmental pollution caused by  coal mining. It is unfair let the Datong’s people bear the pressure of development


[1] Zhang C.Y, Water Environment Analysis and Water Resources Protectionof Datong Mining Area in Shanxi Province. Shanxi coking Coal Science & Technology. Received September 2010.


[2] Cohen, Armond (April 21, 2014). “Learning from China: A Blueprint for the Future of Coal in Asia?”The National Bureau of Asian Research. Retrieved August 8, 2014.


[3] “Nuclear Power in China”Country BriefingsWorld Nuclear Association. 31 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-04.


[4] “Asian coal boom: climate threat or mirage?”Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. Mar 22, 2016. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016.


[5] Tan Z. F, Chen K. T, Ju L. W, Liu P. K, Zhang C. Issues and solutions of China’s generation resource utilization based on sustainable development. Journal of Modern Power Systems and Clean Energy. April 2016, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 147–160


[6] China Labour bulletin. Coal mine accidents in China decrease as production stagnates. Supporting the Workers’ Movement in China. 03/04/2014


[7] Environmental Health Perspectives. Household Air Pollution from Coal and Biomass Fuels in China: Measurements, Health Impacts, and Interventions. Received July 3, 2006; Accepted February 27, 2007.


[8] Finkelman R.B, Harvey E. Belkin, and Baoshan Zheng. Health impacts of domestic coal use in ChinaProc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 March 30; 96(7): 3427–3431.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC34284/

[9] Gabbard, A (5 February 2008). “Coal Combustion: Nuclear Resource or Danger”. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-22.


[10] Zhang H. J, Tan Z. F, Xu H (2013) Research on generation coal-saving effect of the tiered pricing of residential electricity under different power generation structures. In: Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on automatic control and mechatronic engineering (ICACME’13), Bangkok, Thailand, 21–22 Jun 2013, pp 679–701



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