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Beijing asks 7 provinces for winter restriction feedback

China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has requested seven provinces and 10 state-owned energy companies to submit their feedback regarding the ministry’s proposals on winter restriction plans for the upcoming winter by September 30, according to its post on the website on September 28.

The seven provinces and municipalities comprise Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan and Shaanxi, covering all the key regions that neighbour Beijing and are on the Fenwei Plains, Mysteel Global notes. The feedback collection is to guarantee the fulfilment of the central government’s three-year “Blue Sky Safeguard” initiative by the end of 2020.

In the proposal attached to the post, MEE observed that by the winter of 2019-2020, the density of the PM2.5 in the air had declined by 33% from that in the winter of 2016-2017, and the number of days where atmospheric pollution was officially regarded as “heavy” fell by 52% over the period. However, the ministry warned that the 2020-2021 winter is crucial for Beijing to “complete the air quality improvement task for the 13th Five-Year Planning period (2016-2020)”.

In the winter of 2020-2021, restrictions on industrial activity will be executed in over 40 cities and industrial zones in the seven provinces and municipalities, and the severity of restricting efforts will vary among the enterprises in 39 industrial sectors MEE had identified, depending on their pollution control efforts and achievements.

Should any local government or energy company opt not to submit feedback by the deadline, this will be viewed as “no objection to the proposal”, MEE said.

For the coming winter, the restriction efforts are aimed to be timely, accurately identifying the targeted areas, industries, enterprises, and issues, so as to execute the appropriate and efficient measures for the accomplishment of the mission, MEE said.

Special attention will be paid to ultra-low emission standards in the steel industry, progress in substituting rail for road transportation of bulk commodities, surveillance of diesel-fueled vehicles, and the operation of coal-burning boilers. The coming winter restrictions will be executed in two phases with the first being over October-December, and the second spanning January-March 2021, according to MEE.

For both phases, MEE detailed the caps in the density of PM2. Also, the number of days regarded as “heavily polluted” will be limited to five days in the first phase and 12-13 days in the second phase, the proposal said.

For steelmakers in the seven provinces and municipalities, the emphasis is on their emission control, and the local authorities are requested to realize ultra-low emissions in a total of 200 million t/y of steel capacities, among which Hebei is to fulfil 110 million t/y, Shandong 40 million t/y, Shanxi 20 million t/y, Henan 13 million t/y, Tianjin 12 million t/y and Shaanxi 6 million t/y, according to the proposal.

Hebei, China’s top steelmaking province, is believed to boast over 200 million t/y of steel capacity, Mysteel Global understands. And concurrently by December, Hebei needs to rein in its steel capacity to within 200 million t/y, with Tangshan’s portion being no larger than 100 million t/y, and Tianjin within 15 million t/y, the proposal added.

Shougang, HBIS Group, Taiyuan Iron & Steel, Delong Iron & Steel, Jianlong Group, and Shandong Iron & Steel Group are requested by MEE to complete all the related technological upgrading by March 2021 to realize ultra low emission, according to the document.

The commencement of heating services by local governments to residential areas usually starts in November, and prior to the start of the service for the 2020-2021 winter, the ministry said it is strongly encouraging the replacement of small-sized coal-fired boilers with central heating services, or the introduction of heating via natural gas in the areas of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Fenwei Plains. Those that can’t be replaced in time should try to consume cleaner coal.

As for transportation, deliveries of iron ore, thermal coal, steel, coke and coking coal, bauxite, alumina, aluminium, and other nonferrous and ferrous mined products are to be moved to rail services as soon as possible, with rail to shoulder over 80% the coal, coke and iron ore transportation in the areas of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Fenwei Plains by the end of 2020.

By the end of 2020, 1 million units of diesel-fueled trucks whose emission control technology only meets Stage Three standards are to be removed from the road too, MEE added.

The complete copy of the 15-page proposal in Chinese can be found via the link: https://www.mee.gov.cn/xxgk2018/xxgk/xxgk06/202009/W020200928496214401827.pdf

Written by Hongmei Li, li.hongmei@mysteel.com

Edited by Russ McCulloch, russ.mcculloch@mysteel.com