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In a former mining district in eastern China, authorities have shut dozens of pits and invested billions of yuan to resculpt the broken landscape, creating gardens, forest walks and wetland parks, as well as a small museum dedicated to coal.

“There were many villages specializing in running coal mines and when the mines were shut down we lost around four-fifths of our income — we were under huge economic pressure,” said Meng Qinqxi, a senior Communist Party official in Mazhuang, a village on the outskirts of the heavy industrial city of Xuzhou.

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