MAC: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2006-08-17

China Update

17th August 2006

Glencore - the world's largest private trader in metals (and the key shareholder in Xstrata) - has signed a deal which admits it to part-ownership of China's largest aluminium smetrer, Qingtongxia, operated by Chalco.

In 2005, the country used nearly 7 million tonnes of aluminium - making it the largest consumer in the world. Meanwhile the regime is still striving to limit "unregulated" production by banning smelters with a capacity of under 3000 tonnes a year.

The administration is also seeking to "pull down" steel demand, in an attempt to prevent a fall in domestic prices as foreign customers react against being swamped by exports.

China is the source of no less than 60% of the global total of coking coal, with production capacity growing "too fast" according to an industry spokesperson. But, while exports fell by around 10% last month, domestic demand was up by over 15%.

The regime's attempt to reduce industrial pollution - especially sulphur dioxide from coal burning - is failing, re-iterates the country's leading environmental czar in yet another statement. [Interfax China news, August 5 - August 11 2006].

And another coal mine disaster has claimed the lives of eighteen workers.

China Draws Line in Sand to End Pollution for Good

Planet Ark CHINA

17th August 2006

BEIJING - China will rigorously enforce limits on industrial pollution as it seeks to rein in rampant pollution and tame frenetic economic growth, the nation's top environment official said.

Zhou Shengxian, head of China's State Environmental Protection Administration, said government efforts to cut sulphur dioxide and other pollutants belching into China's hazy skies were failing, the China Environment News reported on Wednesday.

Breakneck economic expansion was instead overwhelming official goals to cut emissions and energy use, he said in a speech to officials on Tuesday.

"The central leadership is treating reductions in energy use and major pollutant emissions as two major hard targets -- red lines that can't be crossed," he was quoted as saying.

Zhou urged environmental officials to latch on to the ruling Communist Party leadership's determination to cool the economy in a fresh effort to cut pollution.

"The party central leadership and State Council are using reduction of major pollutants as an important means to promote coordinated, sustainable development," he said, referring to China's cabinet.

China has promised to clean its dirty skies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has made green development a key theme of his administration.

But Zhou said giddy investment in steel mills, cement plants, coal-fired power stations and other emissions-heavy industries was defeating pollution limits. He promised a campaign to vet planned projects, especially those with investment of 100 million yuan (US$12.5 million) or more.

China has become the world's top emitter of acid rain-causing sulphur dioxide, with discharges rising 27 percent from 2000 to 2005, mostly from coal-burning power stations, SEPA officials said earlier this month.

Zhou said estimates from 17 Chinese provinces indicated that discharges grew another 5.8 percent last year. "We must face up to the fact that in the first half of the year emissions of major pollutants nationwide didn't fall, but rose," Zhou said.

"Investment in some pollution-related industries accelerated," he added, noting investment in coal mining and processing grew 45.7 percent compared to the first half of last year.

But the government's determination to tame growth -- which hit 11.3 percent in the second quarter compared to the year-earlier period -- was an opportunity for environmental enforcers, Zhou said.

Wen has ordered local governments to establish accountability rules for implementing caps on sulphur dioxide and other pollutants, and demanded that local officials face inspections for pollution control, Zhou said.

"Implementing reduction goals for major pollutants is the key focus of our work in the second half of the year," he said, warning officials that they should not assume the government's five-year plan for reining in pollution gave them ample time. (US$1=7.981 Yuan)

Story by Chris Buckley


Gas leak kills 18 coal miners in China


5th August 2006

Taiyuan (China) Eighteen miners were killed in a coal mine gas leak in China's Shanxi province.

A collapse in the mining area of Dahuiyao Coal Mine in Ningwu county on Friday caused a fire, producing large amount of harmful gas, said sources from Shanxi Provincial Bureau of Work Safety.

Altogether 34 miners were working beneath the shaft when the accident happened. Three of them escaped the site of the accident.

Rescuers later lifted 14 more miners out of the shaft, of whom, one died in hospital.

Later, the rescuers found the body of the 17 miners trapped in the mishap.

With vast coal reserves, Shanxi province, commonly known as 'sea of coal', is the biggest coal producer in China.

However, fatal accidents in the mining industry have been occurring regularly in the province.

One recent accident with big fatalities in the same county was on July 7 when a blast caused by explosives illegally stored at villager's home killed 47 people, including schoolchildren, and injured 28 persons.

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