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Drones buzz above traffic-clogged roads in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, as white-capped police officers attempt to manage lines of hundreds of trucks waiting to be loaded with cargoes of coal. Many have been there for days.

The jams disrupting the Chinese city, one of the most critical coal hubs anywhere, show the enormous task facing the world’s top energy consumer as it races to ease a power crisis that’s stifling key industries and that some economists warn risks crimping global growth.

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