Polluting Chinese miners will be made to pay in deposit scheme
BEIJING Dec 3 (Reuters) - Chinese mining firms operating in areas heavily dependent on resource extraction will have to pay a deposit to local governments, which they will forfeit if their activities damage the environment, the state planning agency said on Tuesday.
The deposit system is part of a plan to improve the environment and economy of 262 resource dependent cities by 2020 and ensure that polluters pay for the damage they cause. The plan will also see less emphasis placed on GDP growth in assessing the performance of local officials.
"These regions have paid too high an environmental price for the exploitation of their resources," said Du Ying, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a press conference.
Local governments shouldn't "blindly seek investment, or overexploit the resources in their regions, without considering the consequences", he added.
Decades of breakneck growth has left the country facing a barrage of environmental issues, including air and water pollution, with many of China's resource-rich areas having borne the brunt.
The government has identified the environment as one of the biggest potential sources of instability. But despite a pledge to create a "beautiful China" over the next decade, Beijing continues to struggle to bring polluting state-owned industrial enterprises and growth-obsessed local governments to heel.
Du said that establishing an overall compensation mechanism will be one of the major areas of focus for the plan, along with the creation of a pricing mechanism that incorporates the external costs associated with resource extraction, though he offered little in the way of details as to how either of these plans would be implemented.
"The basic principles can be summed up like this: whoever develops has to protect, whoever benefits has to compensate, whoever pollutes has to manage, and whoever destroys has to fix," said Du.
A deposit system for mining firms was first piloted at the end of the 1990s, but has only been patchily implemented, with rules on the amount of compensation being set at the local level.
Under the regulations covering the coal-rich central province of Shanxi, coal producers have to pay a 10 yuan ($1.64) deposit for every ton of raw coal produced.
Overall, the deposit system had accumulated 61.2 billion yuan by the end of 2012, said Du.
Money raised under the system will be spent on environmental management. ($1 = 6.0929 Chinese yuan) (Reporting By Natalie Thomas; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
- Police hunt for motive as search for Malaysian jet spans hemispheres |
- Russia media say Crimea votes 93 percent to quit Ukraine |
- Ukraine, Russia agree Crimea truce until March 21-Ukraine minister
- Malaysian PM says lost airliner was diverted deliberately |
- Democrats seek ways to limit Obamacare fallout after Florida defeat