Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Empire issued an edict to explore resources in Gansu.
But the exploration expedition was suspended due to war.
Wen Wenhao, a young geologist, sent his student, Xie Jiarong, to Yumen for a geological survey.
The presence of oil in Yumen had been long recorded in historical documents.
In the year 267 CE, Zhang Hua of the Western Jin Dynasty described the spring water of Jiuquan that was “thick as gravy”, “yellow and then black”, and could be “lit up”.
Local residents have long extracted oil on small-scale for illumination and medicine.
Xie Jiarong rode a donkey to different locations, and spent half a year to write a report.
But back then, China was politically unstable, with warlords fighting each other.
War against Japan broke out.
All coastal harbours of China were blockaded by the Japanese.
China, which had been dependent on imported crude oil, was forced to look inwards to find oil resources.
Sun Jianchu, part of a government committee on resources, led a team to Yumen.
Sun reported that there was indeed oil there, and recommended drilling to start immediately.
Sun Jianchu oversaw work of the first oil well of the Yumen Oil Field.
In August that year, the well successfully produced oil.
A daily production of 10 tonnes of oil was by means a small achievement for China back then.
A total of 44 oil wells had been established in Yumen since 1939, producing a total of 500,000 tonnes of oil, more than 90% of the total oil output in the entire country.
In September, the People’s Liberation Army entered the Hexi Corridor after liberating Lanzhou and Xining.
They liberated Yumen peacefully.
Xi Zhongxu, a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reported that after a year of geological surveys, they had mapped out 11 oil reservoirs in Gansu, with an estimated deposit of 250 million tonnes.
At that time, the amount of oil needed by the entire country was about 500,000 tonnes per year.
And just the year earlier, in 1950, the total amount of oil actually produced was less than 100,000 tonnes.
Xi Zhongxu also recommended setting up oil wells and production facilities in 1953, starting production in 1955, with a projected production of 6 million barrels per year.
He also recommended setting up oil refineries in Lanzhou.
Mao Zedong designated a division of the PLA to be an oil and engineering corps.
Yumen Oil Field and Lanzhou refineries were included in the first Five-Year Plan.
In October that year, the railway from Tianshui to Lanzhou started operation.
Two teams of geologists were sent into the Qilian Mountains looking for iron ores.
Led by a Tibetan shepherd, they found the first iron ore at Toudaogou.
Qin Shiwei, a young graduate student, led another team deep into the Qilian Mountains, and found another iron ore deposit at Huashugou.
The Xinhua News Agency announced to the world that the first oil production base of new China had been established at Yumen.
After several decades, the total amount of oil extracted from the Yumen Oil Field was 965 million tonnes.
Wang Jinxi was a legend figure from Yumen.
He started working at the oil field when he was 15.
He set the record for oil drilling in the country, and was given the nickname Iron Man.
An ironworks factory was built in Jiuquan.
Tang Zhongli led a geological team to Hexibu in Yongchang.
A local resident had discovered a piece of malachite and given it to the team.
The team traced the origin of the malachite to a hill.
Chemical analysis of the minerals there revealed the presence of copper and nickel.
Nickel is an important material for the production of stainless steel.
However, there was only a very small amount of deposit in the area they excavated.
The geological team drew up plans for more surveys and designed tests.
Eventually, they found a body of nickel deposit that was 358.16 metres thick, and numerous other minerals, including iron, chromium, copper, zinc, and 34 others.
Mining works there continue today.
The city of Jinchang was established, and minerals extracted from the mines there are used in everything from aeroplanes to space shuttles to ocean liners.
In December, the railway from Lanzhou to Xinjiang was completed, with a total length of 1,903 km.
A modern industrial city, the city of Jiayuguan, was established.
The Second Eurasian Land Bridge starting from Lianyungang, China and ending in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, passing through the Hexi Corridor, was completed.
The West-East Gas Pipeline project was initiated.
A high-speed railway connecting Gansu, Qinghai, and Xinjiang became operational.
Numerous wind farms have been built in the Hexi Corridor.
If just half of the wind there is harnessed, the total amount of energy generated would be as high as 400 billion kWh every year.
The vast open space in the desert also makes it an ideal location for solar farms.