December 13, 2018 / 11:55 AM / a year ago

Two Chinese cities order steel mills to cut output on concerns of missed pollution targets

BEIJING (Reuters) - Authorities in China’s major steelmaking cities of Tangshan and Xuzhou have asked mills to curtail output as city officials are concerned they will not meet their pollution reduction targets for the year.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the decommissioned Guofeng Iron and Steel plant in Tangshan, Hebei province, China, August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The Tangshan city government ordered steel mills to comply with cuts mandated under a so-called first-level smog alert, meaning production should be cut by 40 percent, from the current second-level alert with cuts of only 30 percent, according to a notice sent to municipal officials on Tuesday that was reviewed by Reuters.

Mills will also be required to shut all sintering machines, facilities that process raw iron ore before being smelted into steel, and shaft furnaces that have failed to meet ultra-low emission standards, the document said.

“The government told us to trim out more output due to bad air,” said an executive at a steel mill in Tangshan who received the notice.

A manager from Donghai Special Steel Co in Tangshan also confirmed to Reuters that she received the notice to curtail production.

Both officials declined to be named as they are not authorized to talk to media.

An official at the Luannan county government, part of the Tangshan metropolitan government confirmed receiving the statement but declined to comment on the detailed measures.

The propaganda department for the Tangshan city government referred questions to the city’s emergency command center. However, a person contacted at the center said they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, the city of Xuxhou in China’s No.2 steelmaking province of Jiangsu, 800 km (500 miles) south of Tangshan, ordered steel mills to shut down operations throughout December.

“We were ordered on Tuesday to stop production until Dec. 31 as the city government has struggled to reach pollution targets,” said an executive at Xuzhou Jinhong Iron and Steel Co.

Reuters could not confirm the Xuzhou government order with officials contacted at Xuzhou Dongnan Iron and Steel Group, one of the three mills that operate in the city.

Officials at the other mill, Zhongxin Iron and Steel Group, did not answer phone calls.

The Xuzhou city propaganda department did not answer phone calls seeking comment.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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