Haerwusu coal mine is the largest open-pit coal mine in China . It is located in the east of Xuejiawan Township, Jungar Banner, Inner Mongolia, China and covers an area of over 6,700 ha . Jungar Banner is also considered the largest coal production county in China . It is operated by China Shenhua Energy (formerly by 中华准格尔能源有限责任公司), owned by National Energy Investment Group . The construction started in May 2006 and the coal mine went into operation in December 2008 . It has an approved production capacity of 35 Mt/year as of 2022 .
It was reported in June 2011 that the coal mine still faced conflicts with local residents after years of operation, for example in a community at the Heidaigou Village at the heart of the coal mining area, that refused to relocate . It was reported that seven households were living in the “dangerous” Yaodongs, or “house caves”, which are typical earth shelter dwellings in the Loess Plateau in China. They were surrounded by coal mining operations with dust and noise pollution and were still reluctant to be relocated . According to local residents, they had conflicts with the coal mining company between 2007 and 2010 . On one occasion, one villager was detained by the police for 10 days in September 2007 after trying to stop the coal mining activity which caused significant noise. On another occasion, a villager was hurt physically in the conflict in June 2010 . Until then, the coal mine had not obtained the land use certificate (土地使用证) . While the Land and Resources Bureau of Ordos fined the company in 2006, they changed the attitude in 2011 and issued mandatory relocation notice to local villagers with the reason of “seriously affecting construction” . Over the years, the villagers also attempted to report the issues to different levels of governments through petition. Another intense conflict took place in March 2013, when around 10 people from Heidaigou village tried to stop the production activities at Haerwusu coal mine due to land disputes and some of them ended up being detained for 15 days .
Another report in 2013 revealed the land reclamation challenges of coal mines in the Jungar Banner, especially for smaller scale coal mines. Coal mine reclamation is the rehabilitation of land after coal mining operations have stopped. The lack of rehabilitation raised concerns among local residents that “borrowed” their land to the coal mines temporarily. While Haerwusu coal mine, along with its neighboring coal mine, Heidaigou coal mine, are considered the role models in land reclamation, it was reported that the land use efficiency was still limited after significant investment in land reclamation by Shenhua Group .
Some of the discontent from local villagers at Shibaotu community of Heidaigou village was due to the different standard of compensation applied to them in comparison with another community in the village. For example, the average compensation per person was CNY 570,000 ($84,464) in Shibaotu community, while that of the nearby Damiaota community was around CNY 1 million ($148,182) . The working group in Jungar Banner responded that the difference was mainly due to the adoption of different government policies issued at different periods and the different situations of land acquisition in the two communities .
In 2017, it was disclosed that Haerwusu coal mine faced challenges in land acquisition, which even led to the suspension or reduction of coal production starting from August 2017 . Villager complaints were still present on the Chinese social media, Weibo, in 2018 .(See less)