Tongling: a copper city's now and past
What can you tell us about Tongling's bronze production in ancient China?
Tongling was one of the first places in ancient China recorded to mine and smelt copper in large scale, starting as early as in Shang and Zhou dynasties, which was around 3000 years ago. Thus Tongling is also called the birth place of Chinese bronze culture.
Yesterday we had a tour to the museum of Tongling and learned some copper production history of the city. For the past 3000 years, the activity of making bronze has never ceased here. There are ten or so copper mine relic sites discovered around Tongling and archeologists have also found a great amount of bronze antiques, most of which are now exhibited in the museum. Now over 5000 bronze made historical items including antique wine cups, swords, bowls and coins are displayed.
Bronze production generally went declined in ancient China around Han Dynasty when iron replaced bronze for weapon material choice and ceramics for wares. However some 1000 years ago in Tang Dynasty, Tongling copper mining industry was still at its heyday. The famous poet Li Bai had written two poems about the Tongling copper smelting scene, describing miners busily working. This also reflects the status of Tongling as one of the bronze production centers in ancient China.
How is the copper industry developing at present in Tongling?
Tongling is now the smallest prefecture-level city in China. Today the city's industrial base still revolves around the several nearby copper mines and copper processing operations. The first industrial base of bronze production of contemporary China is in Tongling.
Yesterday we visited a bronze industrial plant in the city and saw the whole production line. It was very hot in the plant; workers told us the temperature plant could reach 50 degrees in summer. But instead of producing with mass man power, now the whole smelting process has achieved total mechanization.
Meantime Tongling City is located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and this geographic advantage facilitates river transportation of bronze produced from here.
Additionally Tongling has developed other bronze based industries. For example Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group is the second largest electrolytic copper producer in the world. Other companies of the city also produce electromagnetic wires.
Tongling is not limited by bronze and bronze based industries.
The local mineral resources also include iron, coal, gold, silver, tin plus more than twenty other rare minerals associated with them. And the processing operation of these resources has been increasingly mature in Tongling.
That was CRI's Yang Guang with the Streaming down the Yangtze team.