James Leggate 09
All photographs ©2008 James Leggate. All rights reserved.
In the massive industrial organism of China are some of the last working steam locomotives in the world. At Zhalai Nuer there are about twenty still working the pit. They were built in the 1930’s and 40’s. Zhalai Nuer is a Russian built coal mine in Inner Mongolia very close to the Siberian Russian border. Temperatures here drop to -30°c in winter. The sights, sounds and smells are intoxicating. The locomotives snorting and wheezing are filled with life and the workers are blackened by their sooty excretions. As they chug up and down the steeply graded slopes however, one senses in their huff and their puff that these locos are marching their last rites. Indeed this mine too will be closed by 2010.