According to a Greenpeace report published in 2015, 2.3 million population in Shanxi Province in China was affected by land subsidence due to coal mining as of 2015, which is 1.8 times the population affected by the relocation due to the Three Georges Dam project . Land subsidence is defined by the US geological survey as the gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth's surface due to the removal or displacement of subsurface earth materials or groundwater". In addition to the livelihood struggles for local residents, the coal mining activities also caused pollution and damage to air, water and land .
Xiahua County is located in Hejin, a county-level city of Yuncheng City in the southwest of Shanxi . It is also located on the east bank of the Yellow River. It is the only coal-mining region in Hejin city, home to a number of coal mines such as the Shanxi Shuguang Chuanwo coal mine and the Hejin Xuehugou coal mine. Over the years, villages in Xiahua County have suffered from land subsidence (REPEATED HERE) due to intensive coal mining activities. According to a survey in 2014, 3,539 households across the 9 administrative villages in the county are located in land subsidence areas .
In August 2017, it was reported that 100 households in the Dujiawan Village of Xiahua County faced struggles due to land subsidence issues in their neighborhood –. According to the villagers, the village (AUTHORITIES?) planned to build a “new village” a few years ago based on the compensation plan, but there was hardly anyone in the “new village” since it was constructed not so far from the original village and also built in the goaf area that suffered from land subsidence. There were already cracks visible in the houses in the “new village” due to land subsidence. According to the local village head, the damage to the local households was caused by the coal mining activities of Shanxi Shuguang Coking Company (山西曙光煤焦集团有限公司) back in 2008 . The company negotiated with the village to relocate the whole village in view of the continual operation of the coal mine. According to the negotiation agreement, the construction of the “new village” was from 1 November 2008 to 31 October 2010, after which no household was allowed to remain on the original land. However, this construction of the “new village” process was delayed due to multiple issues including financing and gathering consensus among villagers, with the construction started only in March 2013 . Due to the quality and subsidence issues of these newly built houses, the villagers remained in their old dilapidated “Yaodong” or “house cave”, the traditional form of architecture in this region of Loess Plateau in northern China .
The coal mining activities also changed the situation of drinking water access for local people. Located close to the Yellow River, the village used to have access to wells. As the groundwater level has been reduced due to coal mining activities, the villagers started to purchase drinking water from outside .
Different villages in Xiahua County have faced different realities in the process of relocation due to land subsidence issues caused by coal mining. As of 2022, five administrative villages such as Nansangyu Village and Chenjialing village, managed to relocate as a whole village to Hejin City with the financial support of the coal mining companies, government subsidies and villagers’ own funding . In reality, some villagers remained in the old villages due to their attachment to old homes and farming, or due to a lack of financial capability to relocate to the city .
In June 2022, the relocation project of Laoyaotou Village in Xiahua County was completed, which, according to the local government, was considered the completion of the comprehensive governance program of the coal mining land subsidence areas in Hejin City . However, the progress of the environmental restoration and land reclamation projects, which is part of the restoration of the land subsidence area, is unclear.(See less)