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Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Datong Cleaner Environment Project fact sheet cover

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Datong Cleaner Environment Project

AusAID, Ministry of Commerce (China), Dating Municipal Government (China), Datong Coal Gasification Corporation (China)

PDF file

The Goal

To improve the environmental and economic management of China’s Datong Coal Gasification Corporation plant in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the efficiency of the plant.

The Challenge

Datong, in Shanxi Province in northern China, is a heavily polluted industrial city of three million. Giant coal gasification plants dominate the Datong landscape, with approximately 1000 plants. At the plants, coal is converted to coke and gas to provide energy for the region.

Coal gasification is one of the most versatile and clean ways to convert coal into electricity, hydrogen and other forms of energy. In Datong, however, poor environmental management has led to high levels of toxic waste being pumped into the air and leaking into the water system. Coal gasification plants discharge over 15 million tonnes of waste water each year. The discharged waste contains around 3 million tonnes of contaminants, many of which are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to human or animal health.

This case study

The Datong Cleaner Environment Project began in 2001. The main objectives of the project were to:

How did we make it happen?

The Project was funded by the Australian Government through AusAID for three years ($AU 6.2 million).

The project provided access to Australian and Chinese expertise to implement strategic management systems, in conjunction with Australian environmental and water resource management technologies for improved environmental and social outcomes. The project built capacity within the counterpart agencies, and the broader community, for the sustainable management of natural resources.

How far have we come?

A concerted effort to reduce water discharge by the Datong Coal Gasification Company has resulted in a technological breakthrough, allowing the plant to reduce its wastewater discharge by 30% while also extracting pollutants (with the aim of achieving an 80% reduction when all new measures are in place). The Australian team has been assisting local workers to develop expertise in the new technology, so that it might be applied to other industries in China and the region.

Other achievements include:

What have we learnt?

The project has provided a sound basis for the long-term sustainable development of water resources. Improved water standards have helped to raise the quality of life of the local community.

This project has exceeded expectations, largely through the production of a breakthrough technology that can be applied far beyond the reach of the project. This technology has been supported by the development of policies, strategies and procedures at a local and regional government scale.

For more information about Australia’s development program in China visit: