China's Changzhou plans to enforce output curbs in steel, chemical plants

BEIJING (Reuters) - The city of Changzhou in Jiangsu province is planning to implement production curbs in heavy industry, the latest case of Chinese cities scrambling to cut emissions as part of Beijing’s intensified anti-pollution campaign.

FILE PHOTO: Steel pipes to be exported are seen at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China May 31, 2018. China Daily via REUTERS

The city has issued a draft plan ordering steel mills, copper smelters, chemical makers and cement producers to shut down or cut production by as much as 50 percent by Aug. 3 at the latest, according to a city government document reviewed by Reuters.

“It is not sure when the output curbs will last...probably until the end of this year,” told Yu Le, an official at Changzhou Environmental Bureau, to Reuters on the phone, who confirmed the authenticity of the document.

Jiangsu is China’s second-largest steelmaking province.

Yu said the draft plan has been submitted to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment for review and some adjustments might be made after the city receives a response.

“Rates of production curbs are based on the operation situations and emission levels at companies and will be adjusted dynamically,” said the draft plan.

The draft plans follows Beijing’s push to adopt a more nuanced and “scientific” approach when it comes to curbing emissions from polluting firms as the country vowed to make the measures more efficient in order to meet the politically crucial targets.

More than 400 companies in Changzhou will have to enforce the compulsory production cuts though rates will vary.

Changzhou, home to steel mills and steel processing firms, mainly pipeline makers, produced 12.96 million tonnes of crude steel last year, accounting for 1.6 percent of the country’s total steel output.

Earlier this month, China’s top steelmaking city Tangshan in Hebei province ordered steel mills, coke producers and utilities to deepen output curbs for six weeks this summer in order to clear smog in one of the country’s most polluted areas.

Meanwhile, most of the steel firms in the city of Xuzhou, also in Jiangsu, remain shut due to environmental reasons.

Concerns over tight supplies in the market drove steel prices to a 5-1/2 year high on Monday.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger