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January 01, 1975


References to coal can be found in many ancient Chinese books. In Hou Han Shu, for instance, the county of Chiencheng is noted for a village by the name of Ko, where “there are two ching (a unit of land measure, roughly equal to 15,300 acres - author) of coal that can be burnt in the stove for cooking” [58, ch. “chih” 22, p.15b]. Chiencheng county is in the present province of Kiangsi, within the Fengcheng coal basin, according to one source, or in the present province of Anhwei, within the Huaipei coal basin, according to another source. By the time of the Sung Dynasty (960–1279 A.D.) coal mining developed into an important industry, and there were special government officials who collected coal taxes. Marco Polo (1254–1324), the Venetian traveller who visited China, or rather “Catai,” as the country was called in his time, told the amanuensis who wrote down his memoirs, that “through all the province of Catai there is found a kind of large black stones which are dug from the mountains as veins, which burn and make flames like logs and consume away like charcoal” and that “these stones are so good that nothing else is burnt through all the province of Catai as far as possible” [59, p.249]. The Ming writer Sung Ying-hsing in his book T’ien Kung K’ai Wu details the use of coal in blacksmith’s work, the types of coal in the North and South, methods of exhausting gases from coal pits, ways of

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Mineral Resources of China

A. B. Ikonnikov
A. B. Ikonnikov
Department of Economics, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National Universtiy
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Geological Society of America
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January 01, 1975




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