MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2007-06-22


China update

22nd June 2007

Last week, an analysis by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency concluded that China had outstripped the US as the globe’s biggest contributor to CO2 emissions (with carbon dioxide emissions from cement manufacture comprising nearly 10% of the total.)

The report doesn't square with other studies which place the US as the global number one source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Nor did it calculate such responsibility on a per capita basis, which would still rate US consumers and industry as the world’s chief “carbon culprits.”

In a retort to the Dutch report, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson maintained that those who buy cheap Chinese goods, or locate their factories in China with a view to exporting such products, should also be held to blame for the country’s increased contribution to global warming.

Our summary of what Chinese metals and mining companies are up to abroad includes new, or advancing, projects in Kenya, Australia, Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea and Canada.

Meanwhile Australia’s Sino Gold announces new ventures in China itself; while executives in the Robert Friedland/Ivanhoe camp have secured a stake in the heart of one of the country’s biggest gold mines.


China Now Number One in Carbon Emissions; USA Number Two

BILTHOVEN, The Netherlands, (ENS)

19th June 2007

In 2006, China's carbon dioxide emissions were greater than those of the United States, according to an analysis by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. With this, China tops the list of carbon dioxide, CO2, emitting countries for the first time.

In 2005, CO2 emissions from China were still two percent below those of the United States. In 2006, they were eight percent higher.

"There will still be some uncertainty about the exact numbers, but this is the best and most up to date estimate available," said Jos Olivier, a scientist who crunched the numbers at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

The figures are based on a preliminary estimate by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency using recently published energy data from BP, British Petroleum, as well as cement production data. Cement clinker production is a major source of CO2 emissions in China.

China has a large share in global cement production - about 44 percent in 2006.

Nationally the cement industry's share in China's CO2 emissions is almost nine percent - 550 megatonnes out of a total of about 6200 megatonne of CO2.

The use of fossil fuels and industrial processes are the dominant human sources of carbon dioxide, which is the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

Gases from the burning of coal, oil and gas are increasingly blanketing the planet, preventing the radiation of the Sun's heat back into space.

Of all industrial processes, cement clinker production is the largest source of carbon dioxide. Globally, it contributes around four percent to the total of CO2 emissions from fuel use and industrial activities, the Netherlands agency said.

In 2006, the total of China’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels increased by nine percent.

In the USA in that same year, 2006, emissions decreased by 1.4 percent, compared to 2005.

In the original 15 European Union countries, in that same year, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels remained more or less constant.

In 2005 there was a decrease by 0.8 percent, according to a recent report by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency compiling data from the EU member states.

Globally, in 2006, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use increased by about 2.6 percent, which is less than the 3.3 percent increase in 2005.

The increase in 2006 is mainly due to a 4.5 percent increase in coal consumption, the Environmental Assessment Agency said.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.


China Says Exports Fuel Greenhouse Gas Emissions

PlanetArk CHINA

22nd June 2007

BEIJING - China said on Thursday it was unfair for rich countries to buy its cheap goods and then condemn its greenhouse gas pollution, a day after one study suggested the nation was already the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter.

China's growing greenhouse gas emissions are under a glare of international attention as nations prepare to seek a climate change treaty after the Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012.

Many experts and foreign politicians say an effective new deal needs China to accept specific emissions goals, if not restrictions, which the Protocol does not now demand.

But China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said Western countries needed to consider his country's role as a low-cost export powerhouse that in effect helps rich Western consumers avoid emissions at home.

"China is now the factory of the world. Developed countries have transferred a lot of manufacturing to China. What many Western consumers wear, live in, even eat is made in China," spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news briefing.

"On the one hand, you want to increase this production in China. On the other hand, you want to condemn China over the issue of emissions reductions. This is unfair."

China could overtake Germany as the world's biggest exporter of goods this year or soon after. Exports from China jumped 27 percent in 2006, outpacing all other major trading nations, the World Trade Organisation has estimated.

Qin would not say whether Beijing would put trade claims on the formal agenda of treaty negotiations, but his comments suggested the issue could at least figure in China's rhetorical arsenal.

Developed countries needed to "understand China's position in the present-day economy and be more objective and rational over the emissions reduction issue," he said.

China has overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said on Wednesday.

Other experts have estimated that China will only surpass the United States in coming years.

The Dutch report reckoned China's carbon dioxide emissions totalled 6.2 billion tonnes in 2006. US emissions totalled 5.8 billion tonnes that year, it said.

The International Energy Agency has said China could emerge as the top emitter of carbon dioxide as early as this year. But China has said average per-capita emissions from fossil fuels in 2004 were 3.65 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Qin said this was only a fraction of Holland's average per capita emissions, which he put at 11.4 tonnes. Rich countries, whose historic emissions have fueled global warming, should not "just point the finger of blame at China and developing countries," he said.

Story by Chris Buckley, REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


Update on Chinese minerals companies overseas: Kenya, Australia, Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, Canada

Kenya: Canadian company, Tiomin, has finalized a deal with China’s Jinchuan Investment, in order to trigger the final take-off of its Kwale titanium mine in eastern Kenya, the most conflict-ridden resource extraction project in the country’s recent history.

Under the deal, Jinchuan - China's largest producer of nickel, cobalt and platinum metals - will invest US$10.9 million in Tiomin, giving Jinchuan a 20%, with an option to increase its interest in to 30 percent within the coming 18 months. According to Mineweb (19 June 2007): “ The finalization of the deal gives Tiomin the zeal to continue developing the… project which has been mired by delays and rising costs.”

Australia: Jinchuan is also, along with Sinosteel, about to commence stake acquisition negotiations with Fox Resources Ltd., an Australian base metals explorer and producer, to increase their mine exploration and development ability, according to a Fox Resources announcement Friday.

Fox Resources currently operates the Radio Hill Mine, a nickel and copper mine, in the West Pilbara region of Western Australia, and is also looking to reopen the West Wundho Copper-Zinc Project as soon as possible.

According to the agreement, Jinchuan will provide both financial and technical support to the West Whundo Copper-Zinc Project. Comments Interfax China Metals: “In addition to long-term iron ore and copper concentrate supply contracts, an increasing number of Chinese companies, such as Jinchuan, have turned to purchasing stakes in the early stages of mining projects in order to secure supplies.”

Jinchuan has also acquired an 11.03 % stake in Allegiance Mining NL for the Avebury Nickel Project in Tasmania.

Meanwhile, Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corporation (Angang) has purchased a 12.94 percent stake in Gindalbie Metals Ltd., a Western Australian iron ore group and Yunnan Tin Group has purchased a 5 percent stake in Australian-listed Metallica Minerals Ltd., in order to gain access to the company's nickel projects in Queensland. [source: Interfax China Metals, 22 June 2007]

Russia, Mongolia, Vietnam, North Korea, South Korea, Canada: Longxing International Resource Development Group is currently carrying out feasibility studies on molybdenum, manganese and chrome mines in Siberia

The projects currently under consideration are still in the feasibility study stage, according to Longxing, while the group is also investigating potential mining projects in Mongolia, Vietnam, the DPRK, South Korea and Canada, where feasibility studies are currently underwad.

The company has already set up a joint venture with Zijin Mining Group to develop the Kyzyl-Tashtygskoe lead-zinc mine in the Russian republic of Tuva, according to Zhao. Longxing Group was set up by the Heilongjiang Commerce Bureau, the Heilongjiang Land and Resource Bureau and the China Development Bank in June 2005 with a registered capital of RMB 20.27 billion ($2.66 billion).


Update: foreign companies in China

Australian-based Sino Gold Ltd., a dual Australian and Hong Kong-listed gold mining company, is preparing to develop the Jiaojia Gold Fault in Shandong Province, which the company currently holds a 70 percent stake in a joint venture. Sino Gold began operation of its Jinfeng Gold Mine in Guizhou Province in mid-April. The mine is scheduled to become fully operational by June 2007, and produce 180,000 ounces of gold per annum.

Sino Gold is currently developing several other gold deposits in Guizhou, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Shandong provinces, also in partnership with local mine license holders. [Interfax China Metals 22 June 2007]

Former and current executives of Robert Friedlan’s Ivanhoe Mines are, says Mineweb ( 21 June 2007) now helping to “guide the development of China’s newest and third or fourth largest gold mine, Jinshan Gold Mines’ Chang Shan Hao 217. According to the Friedland clones, they and other foreign mining companies now working in China will be given first choice on even more impressive projects. Jinshan's Chang Shan Hao 217 mine is expected to yield 117,000 ounces of gold annually and is expected to become China’s third or fourth largest gold mine.


China’s Environmental Crisis Catalyzes New Democracy Movement

Jianqiang Liu, China Watch

19th June 2007

China’s worsening environmental crisis is catalyzing a growing environmental movement in which the public is resisting special interest groups and opposing the government’s environmentally “unfriendly” behaviors. More significantly, this movement represents a push toward greater democracy in the country, with the public fighting for its civil rights through protecting the environment.

Although citizens, NGOs, and journalists suffering from China’s deteriorating environment did not set out to turn their environmental efforts into a democracy movement, they have found more democratic space in the “green” realm. They are able to write articles, hold open forums, launch grassroots groups, and educate the public, influencing the behaviors of both the government and special interests. Rather than ideology, they have paid more attention to protecting individual environmental rights—breathing fresh air, drinking clean water, protecting the homeland, and conserving nature. Citizens also have more political space in the environmental arena because the government is undertaking parallel efforts to improve the environment.

The major culprit behind China’s environmental destruction is the collusion between local governments and large companies that profit from developing projects that often have negative impacts on the environment.

But the rising environmental movement has enabled the public to resist these projects, which are typically controlled by government officials and agencies.

Last October, China’s former water resources minister, Wang Shucheng, criticized industry plans to construct 13 continuous hydroelectric dams on the Nu River in Yunnan Province, calling it “an exploitative development.”

This marked the first time that a high-level official openly commented on the controversial hydropower project, signaling a change in the attitude of the Chinese government.

Environmental NGOs, journalists, and a handful of open-minded officials have been fighting the Nu River project for nearly three years. In August 2003, they launched a nationwide protest campaign after learning that Huadian Power Company planned to build a string of large dams on the river. They argued the project would destroy the local environment and force tens of thousands of minority residents from their homelands, while only benefiting the energy companies. The campaign spread its information through newspapers and the Internet rather than marches or large protests, but the huge public and media pressure successfully forced former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to halt the project in February 2004.

For nearly two-and-a-half years following this decision, the local government of Yunnan and hydropower companies tried to attack back and reinstate the project. Based on former water minister Wang’s recent comment, however, it appears that NGOs, the media, and disadvantaged residents have—at least temporarily—won the battle.

Another anti-dam campaign is occurring on the Jinsha River, which like the Nu River is located in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan World Heritage site. Huaneng Energy Group had planned to build a hydropower station at Tiger Leaping Gorge, on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, which would destroy the rich local cultural diversity and biodiversity, cause environmental disasters, and displace some 100,000 minority residents.

Local residents began protesting against the project with the help of NGOs and the media, and in March 2006 some 10,000 residents gathered to oppose the project, eventually forcing the government to halt construction.

In earlier years, it would have been difficult to imagine that the Chinese public could resist the government’s decision on large projects like this.

When the government proposed building the Three Gorges Dam in the 1980s, most Chinese were still used to following the government’s will, particularly in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. Only a few social elites and scholars expressed disagreement with the Three Gorges project, and were put under political pressure rather than receiving support from the public. The massive dam project, now well under way, has so far displaced some 1 million residents and caused significant environmental problems.

The environmental movement has forced China to depart from the “Three Gorges Dam era.” Today, the public has more power to fight against special interest groups, hinder government decisions, and even change interest patterns while protecting their rights. The Chinese have chosen environment protection as a more moderate but complicated way of approaching democracy.

China’s current environmental protection movement differs from that of the past in part because of the emergence of a large number of NGOs and grassroots organizations. But it also differs because environmental protection is no longer just a environmental issue, but a political experiment, according to Pan Yue, vice president of China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), who is well-known for his outspoken views. “Environmental issues are political issues,” he noted in a recent interview.

Once an advisor to central government reform efforts, Pan has tirelessly promoted democracy and the rule of law in China. He hopes legislation will serve to regulate the behaviors of big companies and local governments as well as give disadvantaged groups the right to speak out.

Pan finally got his chance in March 2005, when an ecologist reported that Beijing Yuanmingyuan Park was lining a local lakebed with a layer of plastic to prevent water seepage—a move that could destroy the park’s ecosystem. Pan immediately suspended the project following widespread media exposure and decided to hold a public hearing—the first of its kind in China’s environmental realm.

The hearing, which was open and transparent, represented a milestone in both environmental protection and regulation, according to Li Xun, director of the China Study Center at Tsinghua University. Unlike previous official hearings, which had been controlled by the host government to prevent inconsistencies in voice, the Yuanmingyuan public hearing allowed for representation from different stakeholders and engaged the public in government decisions.

In China, a large number of decisions relating to public benefits are still made without public participation. Many mega-sized plans and projects with significant impact on the environment are launched in the “black box,” while the benefits to the public, who lack access to both information and ways to express their opinions, are eroded by these large interest groups.

Democracy, rule of law, and public participation are all keys to changing this situation—and the environmental arena is the best place to practice them. Because environmental protection has less political sensitivity, it can more easily lead to social consensus and win-win agreements.

Scientists, journalists, NGOs, and SEPA, led by Pan, are now actively fighting interest groups through greater transparency and public hearings. Because SEPA is not an especially powerful government agency, it must rely on public participation to turn environmental issues democratic.

The environmental movement in China, after entering the 21st century, is one of the most exciting landmarks in the country’s development. The movement is reducing the risks from China’s worsening environment, while also bringing more democratic rights to citizens.

Jianqiang Liu is a senior investigative journalist with China Southern Weekend and a visiting scholar at Peking University. Outside contributions to China Watch reflect the views of the author and are not necessarily the views of the Worldwatch Institute.

China Watch is a joint initiative of the Worldwatch Institute and Beijing-based Global Environmental Institute (GEI) and is supported by the blue moon fund.

 

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