MAC: Mines and Communities

Beijing struggles with coal-fired pollution

Published by MAC on 2014-07-28
Source: Reuters (2014-07-24)

... and China's coal industry suffers

Beijing shuts big coal-fired power plant to ease smog: Xinhua

Reuters

23 July 2014

Beijing has closed the first of four large coal-fired power plants set to be de-commissioned as part of the city's efforts to cut air pollution, official news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday, citing the local planning agency.

Xinhua said the authorities had shut down the Gaojing Thermal Power Plant's six 100 megawatt generating units. The plant is owned by the China Datang Corporation, one of China's big five state power firms.

In the face of growing public anger about persistent smog in the Chinese capital, the government has been under intense pressure to cut coal use and relocate industry.

Beijing's three remaining coal-fired power plants are all to be closed by the end of 2016.

The city is planning to reduce coal use by 2.6 million tonnes this year and a total of 9.2 million tonnes by the end of 2016, leaving its annual consumption at less than 10 million tonnes by 2017.

It plans to fill the gap filled by building new natural gas-fired power stations and bringing in electricity from other provinces.

The city is also introducing tougher new fuel standards. It said earlier this year it would draw up new plans to ease traffic, which may include a congestion charge.

Average readings of tiny airborne particles that are hazardous to health, called PM2.5, reached 91.6 micrograms per cubic meter in the first half of 2014, down 11.2 percent year on year, official data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection showed.

The figure stood at an average of 89.5 mcg per cubic meter last year, and Beijing plans to bring it down to 60 mcg by 2017.

In 2013, PM2.5 concentrations in 74 cities monitored by the Chinese authorities averaged 72 mcg per cubic meter, more than twice China's recommended national standard of 35 mcg.

The Beijing Municipal Research Institute on Environmental Protection said earlier this month that Beijing was likely to reach the recommended standard by 2030 at the earliest.

(Reporting by David Stanway)


Beijing to enforce use of clean coal in anti-pollution drive

Reuters

12 July 2014

China's capital city, Beijing, will enforce the use of cleaner low-sulphur coal from Aug. 1 in a bid to tackle the soaring levels of air pollution that frequently clog the country's major cities, the official Xinhua media agency said on Saturday.

Beijing will implement strict controls and targets for airborne sulphur from coal, Xinhua said, citing the Beijing Municipal Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision.

This is the first time China has enforced the use of low-sulphur coal across all industries to tackle pollution.

Air quality in cities is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has poisoned much of the country's air, water and soil.

A Xinhua editorial earlier on Saturday called for China's population to "rein in their craze" for excessive consumption to help solve the country's growing environmental issues.

Beijing has previously established an array of laws and rules to battle the environmental consequences of three decades of unchecked growth, but weak monitoring and punishment make it tough to get powerful industrial interests to comply.

China unveiled plans at the end of last year to slash coal consumption and close polluting mills, factories and smelters to cut air pollution.

Beijing has also been pushing the country's steelmakers and power plants to buy higher-quality raw materials to meet tougher pollution targets. (Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Sophie Hares)


China's coal industry says times are hard, outlook worse

Reuters

24 July 2014 

BEIJING - More than 70 percent of China's coal firms are making losses, the head of the coal industry association said on Thursday, with prices eroded by falling demand growth, a worsening supply glut and a war on smog.

Wang Xianzheng, the chairman of the China Coal Industry Association, told an industry forum that the problems facing the coal sector were expected to get worse, official news agency Xinhua reported.

Wang said the problems had been piling up for the sector since the second half of 2012, with slowing consumption growth unable to absorb sustained capacity increases, especially in the face of rising imports.

He added that more than half of Chinese coal enterprises were now struggling to pay the wages of their workers.

As part of its war on pollution, China has been trying to reduce the share of coal in its overall energy mix. It has vowed to cap total production capacity at 4.1 billion tonnes by 2015, and has been closing coal-fired power plants in smog-hit regions like Beijing.

Total raw coal production reached 1.85 billion tonnes in the first six months of the year, down 1.8 percent compared to the same period of last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

However, while authorities have worked to shut hundreds of small, unsafe and inefficient mines, many new large-scale mines are still being built, and analysts expect total annual production capacity to reach as high as 4.7 billion tonnes by the end of next year.

At a separate news briefing on Thursday, Huang Libin of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said coal was one of China's worst-performing sectors this year, along with steel and nonferrous metals. He said profits in the sector fell 43.9 percent in the first five months.

(Reporting by David Stanway, editing by William Hardy)

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