China is the world's largest producer of coal -- and its biggest consumer. It's rich deposits of coal have provided an unquestioned economic boon, but not one without side effects. As deaths piled up due to unsafe working conditions and environmental destruction accelerated, the government shut down many of the factories in the northern mining provinces, leaving thousands out of work and turning entire cities into ghost towns.
As Jonathan Kaiman writes in Foreign Policy, Beijing has poured billions of dollars into restoring the country's northern coal belt, attempting to revitalize the economy and turn the area into a tourist destination. But for now, much of the region remains mired in a coal-centric past. Here is a tour of China's rust belt, a region awaiting its second life.