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prefecture-level industrial city, north-central Anhui sheng (province), China. Until the 20th century Huainan was a minor town called Tianjia'an, under the jurisdiction of Shouxian, some 18 miles (30 km) to the west. Its development began with the discovery of coal deposits in the locality early in the 20th century, but exploitation of the mines did not begin in earnest until the 1930s. Their development was further advanced under the Japanese occupation (1937-45). After 1949 new coal deposits were discovered, and by the 1970s Huainan was the centre of one of China's most important coalfields, with several mechanized deep pits. The city has a major thermal-power-generating plant, which supplies electricity to part of northern Anhui.