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World

China's old coal country villages are sinking

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Opening sequence

World

China's old coal country villages are sinking

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COMING UP:China's old coal country villages are sinking

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Transcript

00:00:02
>> In China's hinterlands, hopes and whole towns are sinking. Crumbling brick and deep cracks that spiderweb through these walls, the legacy of decades of digging as coal mines far below the surface collapse. I'm David Stanway and I'm speaking from in the middle of China's coal heartland in Shanxi province.
00:00:20
The problem is there's no more coal and the land is sinking under our feet. We're in a small village that used to be a vibrant coal-based industrial town. It's mostly deserted, not because they've been forced to move, but because there's no money in the coal anymore. From this region alone, the government is planning to move as many as 600,000 people before the end of next year.
00:00:44
Many have already moved and a lot of these towns and villages here are already deserted. During the boom years, miners were encouraged to dig further and deeper and while big state run operations would often relocate villages, small, private mines run right under residential areas. Today, Greenpeace says millions are affected by sinking land.
00:01:05
With plummeting coal prices hitting this region hard, the government faces the question of where to get the $2 billion needed to move people. While they wait, some residents here wonder if they'll wake up in the morning.>> I mainly just worry that the house is going to collapse and bury me inside.
00:01:22
That is my greatest fear.>> Then there's the question of what to do with a devastated landscape. Managers at one site told me the land there was so ruined, it was unsuitable for farming. But since many miners can't cope with clean up costs, Beijing is encouraging developers to turn abandoned mines into wind and solar projects.
00:01:40
A small but more solid step towards a renewable future in a country were coal is still king.