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Coal mining operation led to subsidence in Hejin, Shanxi, China


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 [1]. 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 [1]. 

Xiahua County is located in Hejin, a county-level city of Yuncheng City in the southwest of Shanxi [2]. 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[3] and the Hejin Xuehugou coal mine[4].  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 [5].

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 [6]–[10]. 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 [6]. 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 [6]. 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 [9][10]. 

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 [6].

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 [5]. 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 [6][11].

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 [5][12]. However, the progress of the environmental restoration and land reclamation projects, which is part of the restoration of the land subsidence area, is unclear.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Coal mining operation led to subsidence in Hejin, Shanxi, China
State or province:Shanxi
Location of conflict:Hejin
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Coal extraction and processing
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Xiahua County is home to a number of coal mines such as Shanxi Shuguang Chuanwo coal mine [3] and Hejin Xuehugou coal mine [4].

According to the data of Global Energy Monitor [3], Chuanwo Coal Mine is located at Chenjialing Village in Xiahua County. It is owned by Shanxi Shuguang Coal Coke Group Co., Ltd. As of the end of January 2021, the approved production capacity was 1.2 million tons/year [3]. Hejin Xuehugou coal mine is owned by Huozhou Coal and Electricity Group with 0.9 million tons/year production capacity [4]

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Shanxi Shuguang Coal Coke Group Co., Ltd. from China - Owner of one of the coal mines in Xiahua county
Huozhou Coal and Electricity Group from China - Owner of one of the coal mines in Xiahua county
Relevant government actors:- Xiahua County government
- Hejin municipality government

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Global warming
Other Environmental impactsLand subsidence
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The projects remain in operation, while the local villagers were mostly relocated. It is unknown to what extent the environmental restoration will be undertaken by the coal mining companies.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

赵群帅. 山西煤矿采空区失地农民问题研究——以河津市下化乡为例. (Master dissertation, 山西财经大学).

[1] “山西露天采煤毁坏黄河水土保持工作调查 ,” Jul. 2015. Accessed: Dec. 15, 2021. [Online]. Available:

[2] “下化乡_百度百科,” Baidu Baike. (accessed Dec. 15, 2021).

[3] “Chuanwo Coal Mine,” Global Energy Monitor, Nov. 2021. (accessed Jan. 06, 2023).

[4] “Hejin Xuehugou Coal Mine,” Global Energy Monitor, Aug. 03, 2022. (accessed Jan. 09, 2023).

[5] X. Wu, “河津市在全省率先完成采煤沉陷区搬迁工作——‘搬’出来的幸福,” Apr. 25, 2022. (accessed Jan. 09, 2023).

[6] Z. Hu, “山西河津悬空村:采煤掏空村庄 逃不开,无路可去,” 中国青年报, Aug. 16, 2017. (accessed Dec. 17, 2021).

[7] Z. Hu, “《逃不开的悬空村》追踪:官方成立工作组驻村调查,” 新华网, Aug. 17, 2017. (accessed Dec. 17, 2021).

[8] N. Li, “山西河津回应‘新村成空村’ 村主任:验收报告已经丢失,” 央广网, Aug. 21, 2017. (accessed Jan. 14, 2022).

[9] N. Li, “新村质量堪忧不敢住 山西河津500村民住窑洞9年,” 央广网, Aug. 17, 2017. (accessed Jan. 14, 2022).

[10] J. Liang and H. Guan, “房屋开裂耕地塌陷 采空区村庄20年两度搬迁(图),” 中央电视台, Nov. 14, 2006. (accessed Jan. 14, 2022).

[11] “卢广 用镜头纪实,” 新文化报, Aug. 25, 2011. (accessed Jan. 14, 2022).

[12] “山西河津采煤沉陷区综合治理圆满收官,” 央广网, Jun. 15, 2022. (accessed Jan. 09, 2023).

Meta information

Contributor:EJAtlas team
Last update09/01/2023
Conflict ID:5770



Land subsidence led to cracks in local houses

Photo credit: CNR,, accessed in January 2023.

Cracks in "new" village of Daxiaowan village, Dujiawan Administrative Village, Xiahua County

Photo credit: CNR,, accessed in January 2023

Comparison of after and before relocation of Nansangyu Village, Xiahua County

Photo credit: