Number Three Ore Vein, Kokoktay

The Relics of Empire: Resource Extraction and the Making of Modern Xinjiang

Number Three Ore Vein, Kokoktay

The Number Three Ore Vein across the Irtysh River from the town of Koktokay (which can be seen in the upper left of the picture) is 131 feet wide, stretches more than a half a mile into the earth, and is part of a massive 10,000-square-mile ore field around Koktokay. The site produced substantial quantities of lithium, beryllium, tantalum-niobium, and mica. Between 1950 and 1962, the Xinjiang Nonferrous Metals Company shipped more than 100,000 tons of lithium, 34,000 tons of beryllium, and 39 tons of highly valued tantalum niobium to the Soviet Union. The honeycomb of mine shafts were converted into a vast open-pit mine in 1956. The ore-bearing rock in the hills above the site spells out “Long Live the Great Leap Forward.”