From the New York Times:
Given China's status as the workshop of the world, and given that coal, more than anything, is powering that workshop, men like Mr. Zhu could be called the coal-truck drivers of the world. They carry the coal that powers the country's restaurants, office buildings and high-rises, as well as the factories that make cheap exports for the West.
They also spend hours, sometimes days, waiting in line, a small example of the epic scale, and epic inefficiency, of China's coal economy. The grimmest barometer of that inefficiency is not measured in hours wasted but in lives lost: nearly 6,000 coal miners died in accidents last year, often in illegal mines where owners sacrificed safety in the rush for profits.
But the journey of the coal driver is a reminder that often beneath the juggernaut of the Chinese economy are three guys squeezed into the cab of a filthy truck hauling coal, a trip multiplied daily by untold thousands. In this fashion " one restaurant, one shopping mall or one factory at a time " much of China gets its energy. [Full text]