The GDP per capita was ¥17,852 (US$2,570) per annum in 2008, ranked no. 242 among 659 Chinese cities. Coal mining is the dominant industry of Datong. Its history and development are very much linked to this commodity.
Development zones Datong Economic and Technological Development Zone
Due to its strategic position it is also an important distribution and warehousing center for Shanxi, Hebei and Inner Mongolia.
Datong is an old fashioned coal mining city in China, and still sits on significant reserves of this commodity. Consequently it has developed a reputation as one of China’s most polluted cities. The Datong Coal Mining Group is based here and is China’s third largest such enterprise. Datong is indeed however an emerging economy, as the city seeks to loosen its dependence on coal, introduce more environmentally friendly and efficient methods of extraction and move into other areas of business services. Local government has continued to upgrade its pillar coal sector (and related industries like coal chemicals, power and metallurgy), while also developing "substitute industries" such as machinery manufacturing, tourism and distribution, warehousing and logistics services. This has had some impact. Datong's GDP grew by 5.1 percent in 2008 to RMB56.6 billion.
While coal will continue to dominate, Datong has been identified as one of the key cities requiring redevelopment, with part of this being in environmental cleanup, rehabilitation and industrial refocusing. Datong is a pilot city for rehabilitation studies following years of pollution. To this end it has already struck up strong relationships with other cities worldwide with similar backgrounds, and has begun plans, for example, to develop a tourism base focused on steam engine technology with antique locomotives to be used along designated tracks.
Datong has a large railway locomotive works 'Datong locomotive factory', where the 'Aiming Higher' class of steam