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World's largest abandoned man-made mine becomes a park


The world's largest abandoned man-made mine in Fuxin City of China's northeast Liaoning Province has been converted to a park and will be ready to receive tourists in May.


As one of the 156 major industrial projects that pushed the first industrialization steps of the newly established People's Republic of China, the Haizhou Open Pit Coal Mine began operation in 1953. It boasted the most advanced coal mining techniques brought from the former Soviet Union. Its heyday could be seen on the five-yuan note of the third set of RMB issued in 1962, which depicts a huge electric picker operating in the mine.


But that electric picker is silent now.


The mine, which produced a total of 243 million tonnes of coal was depleted and went bankrupt in July 2005, leaving a pit of 2.8 billion cubic meters three kilometers from downtown of Fuxin City.


"The local government started to turn the pit to a national mining park in 2006," said Li Jiao, head of the construction office of the park at the city's Bureau of Land and Resources. Now, the theme park and a museum have been completed, as well as the roads leading to the park.


The park, with an altitude of minus 175 meters, is 20 meters lower than the lowest land point of China, Aydingkol lake in the Turfan Basin in China's west Xinjiang Province.


"Tourists could have a 'journey to the center of the earth' here," said Li.


Stepping down the stone stairs, people can see coal mine veins formed in the Cretaceous period, animal and plant fossils, and agates in their original forms.


Li said that in the future, tourists could even have a taste of the miners' lives, trying an electric picker, riding a mining train, and even drilling and blasting coal walls with safety explosives.


So far, 48 million yuan (about 7 million U.S. dollars) has been spent on the park, and it will receive a further investment of 130million yuan (about 2.8 million U.S. dollars) for disaster control and infrastructure construction.


Fuxin, relying mainly on mining in the past, is the first pilot city identified by the State Council to transform its economy. To date, 28 national parks are permitted to be built in 44 cities like Fuxin.