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SHANGHAI, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Tangshan, China's biggest steel producing city, aims to close 8.6 million tonnes of steel capacity in 2017, the local government said on Thursday, part of its efforts to "upgrade" its highly-polluting heavy industrial economy.
Local leaders set the 2017 closure target during an annual economic work meeting this week, according to an announcement on the city government's website. They also agreed to cut iron smelting capacity by 9.33 million tonnes and shed 1.1 million tonnes of coal capacity.
Before it started shutting down plants in 2014 as part of a regional war on smog, Tangshan in northern China's Hebei province was producing around 100 million tonnes of crude steel every year, more than the whole of the United States.
The city promised in 2014 to cut 40 million tonnes of crude steel capacity over the 2013-2017 period, and had already closed 31.86 million tonnes by November last year.
Tangshan, about 160 miles from the capital Beijing, has been shrouded in hazardous smog for much of the past two weeks, and it announced a new pollution "red alert" on Tuesday that forced most of its industrial enterprises to suspend operations.
On Thursday, concentrations of hazardous breathable particles known as PM2.5 were still at 319 micrograms per cubic metre in Tangshan. Cities need to reduce readings to an annual average of 35 micrograms in order to meet state standards.
Hebei province as a whole has pledged to cap its total annual crude steel capacity at 200 million tonnes by the end of the decade, down from 286 million tonnes in 2013.
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Christian Schmollinger