Kaiping Mining Bureau
To provide fuel for ships and arsenals, Li Hongzhang, chief representative of the Westernization group among the Qing bureaucrats, began to build the Zhili Cizhou Coal & Iron Mine in 1874. However, it was later suspended due to the inconvenient traffic problems it created and strong opposition from local gentry who claimed that it destroyed the local "feng shui" or geomantic omen. The Hubei Xingguo Coal & Iron Mine supervised by Sheng Xuanhuan was also closed that year for its poor coal quality. In 1875, Shen Baozhen set up the Keelung Coal Mine in Taiwan, which started production in 1877 with an annual production of 54,000 tons.
To guarantee the fuel supply for the Tianjin Machinery Bureau and Shipping Merchants' Steam Navigation Bureau, Li Hongzhang sent Tang Tingshu, chief director of the Shipping Merchants' Steam Navigation Bureau, to carry out a survey in Luanping County of Hebei Province. Tang sent samples back to Beijing, securing approval for their satisfactory quality. Preparation work for the Kaiping Mining Bureau was hence started on October 3, 1877, and was officially finished in 1878. In 1881, it was put into full operation with 3,000 employees.
As it was one of the companies that adopted machinery to excavate coal in modern China, the Kaiping Mining Bureau improved equipment and traffic conditions every year. Its annual coal production was raised to 730,000 tons in 1898 from 38,000 tons in 1882. It was actually the most productive mining company established by the Westernization group.