June 5, 2017 / 7:56 AM / in 5 months

China's Tangshan starts new campaign to implement steel cuts

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The major Chinese steel city of Tangshan has launched a fresh crackdown on mills that illegally restart production or violate industry overcapacity rules, according to a notice published by the China Iron and Steel Association on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese miner works at a coal mine in the suburb of Tangshan, China's Hebei province December 9, 2005. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

Tangshan, in Hebei province, produced 88.3 million tonnes of steel last year, up 6.8 percent on the year and more than the entire United States, putting it on the front line of the central government’s efforts to curb overcapacity in the sector. It aims to close around 8.6 million tonnes of annual production capacity this year.

But the city was the subject of a central government investigation earlier this year amid concerns that firms continued to raise steel output despite mandatory capacity cuts.

New guidelines drawn up by the Tangshan planning commission promise to put grassroots government departments under greater pressure to comply with anti-pollution and overcapacity guidelines, and identified the names of officials tasked with ensuring that shuttered plants do not reopen, power and water supplies are cut off and equipment dismantled.

The guidelines also cover illegal new capacity expansions in the steel, cement and coking coal sectors, as well as the closure of coal mines in the province.

Hebei aims to cut major emissions by more than 15 percent by 2020 and will step up efforts to force local industries to meet their pollution targets for 2017, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a local government plan published on Sunday.

The province, which surrounds China’s capital Beijing, is already under heavy political pressure to bring concentrations of small, breathable particles known as PM2.5 down by 25 percent over the 2013-2017 period, and it admitted last month that it was still not properly enforcing state pollution standards and policies.

Average PM2.5 in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei rose nearly 20 percent year-on-year in the first four months of 2017, and the region is expected to introduce tough new restrictions on industry in the second half of the year to ensure its 2017 targets are met.

Hebei also said it would establish a fully integrated environmental information platform by the end of this year enabling it to keep track of and punish offenders.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Joseph Radford

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