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On a hill in Northern Kunming, overlooking the city, is a large area in which workers toil all through the day to make coal cylinders for small stoves and heaters. First they break large lumps into gravel, and throw it into a cement mixer with earth, gravel and water. They then use hand-held tools to compress the resulting material into stubby, perforated cylinders to be used in street stoves and other similar appliances. Such coal products are found throughout China.

Coal plays a major role in China's economic drive, and in 2006 accounted for 60% of the energy produced. The country has the world's third largest reserves, and consumption is expected to expected to "reach 2.9 billion tons in 2020." (http://www.edu.cn/20060310/3177926.shtml)

The worst effects are felt in the northern and Western provinces, where winters are very long and cold, and most buildings remain heated by coal. In Harbin for instance, where I spent some time, huge chimneys bellow out thick black smoke throughout the winter months, leaving heavy smog and dust everywhere - a typical case. In spite of the heavy pollution produced by burning this fuel, China's consumption seems set to increase for some time yet, as economic growth demands ever more energy, and oil reserves around the world deplete.

This girl is one of the children living in this part of Kunming, in not entirely comfortable - or clean - conditions. In the lower right corner are some of the coal bricks produced out here.

More to come later...

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Additional Photos by Andre Holdrinet (Andre-H) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 154 W: 11 N: 222] (1271)
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