Beijing will close its last three coal mines in the next four years and entirely quit coal mining by 2020, ending an 800-year-old practice in a bid to curb alarming air pollution. China is the world's top coal consumer but demand has been on the wane as economic growth slows and the country shifts away from fossil fuels in order to curb pollution. In 2016, Beijing closed two coal mines with a total annual production capacity of 1.8 million tonnes, Li Bin, deputy director of the coal management office Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform said yesterday. By 2020, Beijing will completely bid farewell to the coal mining industry, Li said. Pollution levels in Beijing goes up high especially during the winter as the city operates numerous coal fired heating plants to provide heating for residences in the city. Beijing has a coal mining history of nearly 800 years. The earliest official historical documents on coal mining date from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Li said, adding that during the following Ming and Qing dynasties, west Beijing's mountainous area became renowned as a high-quality coal production base. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, coal produced in west Beijing's mountainous area has served as a major energy source for the capital's social and economic development, Geng Yangmou, chairman of Beijing Haohua Energy Resource said. Statistics show that Beijing's coal consumption in 2010 was over 26 million tonnes, with the number declining to about 12 million tonnes in 2015. Geng said the central and the Beijing municipal governments allocated more than 160 million yuan (USD 23.2 million) in subsidies to local coal workers and miners in 2016. Geng said the coal mining areas will be developed, as new industries are expected to be brought in.
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