MAC/20: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2007-02-16


China update

16th Feburary 2007

It may not happen, may be a drop in the ocean, while (to some) it will be further evidence of the authoritarian nature of the regime.

However, the Chinese administration's readiness to cancel environmentally damaging mining/minerals projects stands in striking contrast to the failure of some, more democratic, governments to do the same.

Will the decision to also close small coal-fired power plants have the desired effects - even if it could be achieved?

Meanwhile, with some six hundred new mineral deposits allegedly "discovered" in Tibet, we may doubt whether the regime's geo-political "march to the west" will be hampered.


12 environmentally-damaging projects permanently canceled

The State Environmental Protection Administration of China has permanently canceled 12 environmentally-damaging projects, half of which are iron-and-steel-related, as part of a clean-up program.

According to SEPA's announcement yesterday, these projects are all high-energy-consuming and severely polluting.

The total investment injected into these projects has already reached RMB 2 billion ($257.9 million).

On Jan. 10, SEPA punished 82 projects that were in violation of the state's industrial policy and environmental laws and regulations. Industrial project grants in four regional-level cities, Tangshan, Hebei province, Laiwu, Shandong province, Liupanshui, Guizhou province, and Luliang, Shanxi province, were restricted pending administrative approval.

The remaining 70 less environmentally damaging projects are currently being improved.

SEPA announced that only after effective improvement can the "approval restriction" be lifted.

At present, only Laiwu Iron and Steel Group's cold-rolled sheet project has completed improvements and gained administrative approval.

Local media previously reported that SEPA would crack down on polluting projects, and strictly follow China's "Eleventh Five-year Economic Development Plan." According to SEPA official Pan Yue, SEPA plans to extend its "approval grants restriction policy" to cover more regions and industries in the future.

Projects canceled by SEPA:

200,000-ton iron alloy project
Baotou Tuyouqi Merchants Service Center
Baotou, Inner Mongolia

Steel converter project
Changshu Hangda Iron and Steel Co. Ltd
Changshu, Jiangsu province

Coke producing project
Hengchen Coke Co. Ltd
Yantai, Shandong province

Environmental-protection facilities for special ferrous silicon producing
Pingan Special Ferrous Silicon Co. Ltd
Haidong District, Qinghai province

No.2 coke oven project
Eshan Tianda Industrial and Trade Co. Ltd
Yuxi, Yunnan province

Capacity-expansion project
Changbaishan Mountain Fine Chemical Co. Ltd
Jilin, Jilin province

Metallurgy production line project
Oasis Agricultural Development Co. Ltd
Fuyang, Anhui province

Wine making project
Xingbang Science and Technology Co. Ltd
Haozhou, Anhui province

Alkali salt mining and processing project
Tongbai County Ludi Co. Ltd
Nanyang, Henan province

Iron and steel project
Xinlian Iron and Steel Co. Ltd
Tangshan, Hebei province

Iron and steel project
Baoye Industrial Group Co. Ltd
Tangshan, Hebei province

Iron and steel project
Ruannan Huarui Iron and Steel Co. Ltd
Tangshan, Hebei province

Source: State Environmental Protection Administration of China
via: Interfax China Metals, 16 February 2007


China Vows Action on Pollution after Missing Target

PlanetArk CHINA

13th February 2007

BEIJING - China said on Monday that it would step up its efforts to curb emissions of pollutants by temporarily suspending the approval of some investment projects, after falling short of its goal for 2006.

The State Environmental Protection Administration said on its Web site (www.sepa.gov.cn) that the country had missed its target of reducing overall emissions by 2 percent in 2006, without giving detailed figures.

However, the agency said that emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide had amounted to 25.9 million tonnes in 2006. That was 1.8 percent more than in 2005, when such pollution grew by 13.1 percent.

The agency said that starting this year, it would publish biannual figures on emissions in each province to give poor performers more pressure from the public to clean up their act.

China has set a goal of reducing emissions of pollutants by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010.

To that end, the government would halt approvals of highly polluting investment projects in those provinces that had failed to curb their emissions in line with the targets set for them by Beijing, the agency said.

The agency also said that by the end of this year, China would close paper factories with capacity of less than 34,000 tonnes per year and increase electricity and water prices for highly polluting and energy-intensive industries.

China last year also missed its goal of making a 4 percent cut in the amount of energy it uses to generate each dollar of national income.

Sources told Reuters last week that China only achieved a 1.0-1.5 percent reduction in that measure of "energy intensity" last year.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE


China to Shut Down Smaller Power Plants; Effects Remain to Be Seen

Yingling Liu, China Watch

8th February 2007

The State Council, China’s parliament, recently endorsed a plan to accelerate closure of the nation’s smaller coal-fired power plants. The plan, developed by the nation’s top two energy policymaking bodies—the Office of the National Energy Leading Group and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)—sets forth concrete targets for decommissioning older and smaller plants. It strongly supports a 2006 NDRC notice that called for a comprehensive check on facility closures over the past seven years and also made public a list of all plants slated to close through 2010.

The intensified efforts are an outgrowth of the avowed determination by China’s top leaders to “prioritize” sustainable development. In its 2006–10 national development plan, the government labeled energy consumption and pollution as two major constraints on economic growth. China has also set ambitious targets for 2010 of cutting the amount of energy consumed per unit of GDP by 20 percent and reducing pollution by 10 percent below 2005 levels. Achieving these goals will require a clear government role.

Coal-fired generation accounts for 82 percent of China’s total power supply and has been chronically wasteful and dirty. Smaller and older generators, which are also the most inefficient and polluting, comprise a large share of the total installations. Currently, nearly 30 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power installations are generators of less than 100,000 kilowatts.

According to Li Junhong, a power expert in Nanjing, generators under 50,000 kilowatts consume 200 grams more energy per kilowatt of electricity generated than those above 300,000 kilowatts. China’s larger “ultra-supercritical” thermal power generators, with over 1 million kilowatts of generating capacity, consume roughly 290 grams of coal per kilowatt, while some smaller generators use around 1,000 grams per kilowatt. The coal used to produce only 1 kilowatt of electricity in small plants will generate as many as 2–3 kilowatts in larger ones.

Statistics also reveal that small plants emit 20 times more particulate matter and smog-forming pollutants than larger ones, and three times the sulfur dioxide. In 2006, coal burning was responsible for 90 percent of China’s sulfur dioxide discharges and 70 percent of its emissions of particulate matter and other smog-forming pollutants, according to World Watch magazine.

In light of the rising impacts of coal burning on China’s energy supply and the environment, the government has sought to tackle the closure of smaller coal-fired power plants for several years. It began issuing notices and set a series of targets for this endeavor as early as 1999, but only now—eight years later—is it beginning to take real action. The latest NDRC list of small power generators scheduled to close by 2010 involves nearly 700 plants with a combined installed capacity of 16 million kilowatts, or 3.2 percent of the national total. Based on earlier mandates, more than 600 of these plants should have been closed before 2002, and more than 11 million kilowatts in installations should have been decommissioned by 2005.

Worsening power shortages nationwide are largely to blame for this policy inefficacy. From 2002 on, China’s fast economic growth has constantly outstripped the nation’s ability to power this growth. Statistics show that electricity shortages amounted to 20 million kilowatts in 2003 and more than 40 million kilowatts in 2004. During the peak demand period in 2004, more than 20 provinces and municipalities nationwide experienced blackouts, and factories along China’s prosperous east coast were forced to shut down production lines several days a week or to operate only at night.

This situation encouraged the construction of a massive new round of small coal-fired power plants, which required low investments but yielded instant returns. In 2004, China installed 51 million kilowatts of new generation capacity, the highest level worldwide; in 2005, this grew to 66 million kilowatts. Local governments invested in the majority of these smaller plants, receiving considerable tax revenues and environmental protection fees in return, according to Nanfang Daily. During periodic crackdowns by the central government, local governments in some regions responded by simultaneously shutting down old small coal-fired plants and starting up new ones.

This latest government crackdown, however, appears to be more serious than previous ones. An official with the NDRC recently stated that all small coal-fired power plants on the list, regardless of their classification, must be shut down according to schedule. The official also told Nanfang Daily that if the plants continue operating beyond their closure dates, they will lose power grid access, fuel supply, financial assistance, and land and water resources.

It is not uncommon for China’s central government and local governments to play cat-and-mouse games on issues where their interests conflict. Whether this most recent “iron blow” by the central government will in fact result in concrete changes remains to be seen. The demands on China’s power supply have relaxed slightly over the past two years, galvanizing the blow, but a sound economy still needs a guaranteed power supply to carry it through the periodic ups and downs. What this relaxation does provide is an opportunity for a reshuffling in the electricity generation sector.

If the government hopes to live up to its promise of sustainable growth, a greener, more efficient structure is sorely needed, with stronger emphasis on clean and renewable energy sources and better technologies.


600 new mineral deposits found in Tibet Plateau

China Geological Survey announced yesterday the discovery of 600 new mineral deposits on the Tibet Plateau, a survey official said on Feb. 13.

The newly discovered mineral deposits, mainly located in Tibet, Xinjiang and Qinghai Autonomous Region, include iron, lead, zinc and copper reserves, an official with the geological survey surnamed Li told Interfax.

China Geological Survey has started assessing and investigating some of the large-scale polymetallic zones, including Nyixung for rich iron ore deposits, copper-polymetallic deposits in Cuoqin, Tibet, and copper deposits in the Kulukuli basin in Xinjiang.

Until now, China Geological Survey has found 5,000 mineral deposits on the Tibet Plateau through its seven-year regional survey, and has initially estimated 30 million tons can be yielded from copper reserves, 40 million tons from lead and zinc reserves, and 1 billion tons from iron ore reserves.

The Tibet Plateau has other mineral resources, such as chromium, cesium, gold, silver and cobalt.

[Interfax China Metals, 15 February 2007]

 

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