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China’s Xinjiang halts mining in nature reserve to curb…

BEIJING, Dec 9 (Reuters) – China’s far western Xinjiang region has suspended mining in one of its big nature reserves, the official Xinhua news agency reported, amid rising environmental concerns.

The mining sector has been a crucial part of China’s rapid economic expansion in the last three decades, but poor regulation and weak enforcement of standards has contaminated much of the country’s soil and left parts of its land and water supplies unfit for human use, threatening public health.

Authorities in Xinjiang’s Altun national nature reserve have stopped 69 mining projects, as part of a national campaign to tighten environmental supervision, Xinhua said.

All mining activities within the 46,800-square-kilometer reserve, home to endangered species such as Tibetan wild yak and wild ass, will be banned, it added.

In September, a Chinese mining association official said the authorities would cancel about a third of its iron ore mining licences, mostly belonging to small polluting mines as part of Beijing’s efforts to improve air quality. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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