China can’t get enough of Mongolia’s coal, thanks to domestic mine closures and a halt on imports from North Korea. Compared to last year, Mongolia coal exports have more than doubled, and the China-Mongolia border is buckling under the flow.
As shown in the photo above, a days-long bottleneck of coal trucks has built up at the Chinese border.
The cause of the hold-up is understaffed customs offices on both sides of the border, who are also under pressure for increased scrutiny of the surging cargo, Reuters reports. At the moment, the border only has capacity to let through 700 trucks a day. Their target for the next year is 3000 trucks per day.
While the truck drivers wait their turn to cross the border, sometimes nearly a week, a small local economy has popped up along the road to the border crossing. Local sellers provide water, cigarettes and fuel for the drivers stuck in the traffic snaking through the desert, seemingly without end.