From open-pit mine to eco-farm land

Updated: 2017-09-25 Print

Endless corn, with leafy yellow stalks, waves in the cool September wind. Through the corn field is a large forage area, planted with grass. Months from now, the grasses will be harvested at their optimal nutritive value and served to the cows bred nearby.

The land the corn and grass are rooted in used to be an open-pit mine in Jungar Banner, a prefecture famous for coal resources in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.

Since the government's call for a balanced relationship between economic development and environmental protection, local officials and entrepreneurs in Jungar Banner have been studying ways to reclaim open-pit mines.

However, this time, the reclamation procedure is designed to go beyond tradition, and not to just dig the coal out, replace the earth and make it a natural site. Local officials and entrepreneurs want to do more. They are studying ways to turn the land back into arable farm land for modern agriculture and animal husbandry to bring concrete benefit to local people.

Haerwusu farm is one of the projects built on a reclaimed open-pit mine. It has an area of 520 hectares, of which 105 are flat. It includes a 144-hectare grass forage production area and a 6.5-hectare livestock farm. It constitutes a complete beef cattle industry chain, from breeding, fattening, processing, to sales.

The operation of the farm will apply a "company + rural household" mode and use a foster system to bring benefits to over 200 big cow breeding families and poor households in the mine area, which will allow them to participate in the cultivation process and share the profits without being responsible for finding markets. It is expected to increase local farmers' annual household income by 3,500($528.93) to 4,000 yuan.

The reclamation project covers six dumping areas totaling 2,800 hectares located in the Heidaigou and Haerwusu open-pit coal mines, the two largest ones in China. The reclamation transformation, to be conducted by Jungar Modern Development of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Co Ltd and Shenhua Jungar Energy Co Ltd, is expected to be finished in a decade with an investment of 260 million yuan.

Currently, over 600 beef cattle are being raised in the open-pit mine-turned-farm, fed with the forage produced nearby. [Photo by Song Tingting/chinadaily.com.cn]

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