China's consumption of coal is increasing. Most of the country still heats and cooks using coal, and China's factories churn out more and more products. Only a few million families in the country have a car, but cars and other consumer durables are becoming increasing popular and are starting to be seen as necessities by most people. The Datong mine is probably China's most important coal mine, and if you are interested in visiting to see the mines and plants, it is open for tourists.
Visitors to the plant can tour in the tunnels and see the mine's plants. They can watch as the coal is extracted and processed. Tourists who enter the mine are issued clothing such as a hard hat, gloves, a frock and boots. They may also be given a flashlight. They are taken down an elevator that might go down 900 feet. Some of the tunnels go two miles into the mountain. A small train takes workers into the tunnels.
You might see a section of collapsed tunnel. The tunnel collapsed when there was an earthquake. In the mine, there is a display of statues that show how miners labored in the past with primitive equipment. You can see the old equipment that they used to dig out the coal manually. You might also watch as the big modern equipment dig out the coal mechanically. You may see exhausted miners who are covered with soot. The miners say that their work is hard and dirty, and they hope that their kids will have a better job.
The mine was opened in 1956. Coal was extracted manually in the beginning, and the work was more dangerous. Mechanized production replaced a lot of manual labor. The mine supports about 50,000 people including the families of the workers. Currently, about 8,000 workers work in the mine. They work in six-hour shifts.
The mine is an important one because the quality of the coal is high and the demand for energy is increasing. The mine has recoverable reserves of about 150 million tons. Currently, about 4.5 million tons are produced annually. This compares with the approximately 4.5 billion tons of coal that is produced in China annually. Though this is just .1% of total production, the mine is an important one. Some of it is exported to other countries.
The Datong Jihuagong Coal Mine produces high quality coal that produces a lot of heat when it burns. It is low in sulphur content, and it burns cleanly and is ideal for use in dwellings. Coal consumption is increasing in the country. Though the world is in a deep recession or depression, the economy is still growing. The growth is partly coming from the growth of energy-intensive industries such as steel production, cement production, and automobile production. So the demand for energy is increasing.
Datong is an industrial city that is located about 150 miles west of Beijing in Shanxi Province. The Ji Hua Gong mine is on the city's outskirts on the western side, on the way to Yungang Grottoes. Note that people are not allowed to bring cameras or telephones in the mine. Here is the address in Chinese to show a driver: 大同晋华宫煤矿,山西省大同市煤田的东北部边缘.