Stricter environment laws hit lead smelters
Updated: 2005-11-01 07:11
China's stricter environmental regulations are delaying
construction of a 80,000-tonne-per-year lead plant in Henan, but are encouraging
small lead producers in Yunnan to merge their operations, industry officials said on Monday.
Privately held Dongfang Gold and Lead Co. would start
building its new lead plant by late December this year, having delayed
construction by more than a year, an official said.
The construction was originally planned to have begun in July 2004.
"They have been doing the environmental assessment for the project," the
official said, referring to the environmental authority of the Henan provincial
government in south-central China.
Dongfang also operates another 60,000-tonne-per-year lead plant, which has
smelting and refining capacity.
Emissions from Dongfang's 60,000-ton lead plant exceeded levels set by the
government when the plant ran trials in April 2004, a report posted on the web
site of the State Environmental Protection Administration said.
The official said Dongfang had already spent more than 10 million yuan to
upgrade the 60,000-ton plant in Jiaozuo city and it now met requirements of the
provincial environmental authority. He added that emission violation would not
affect the approval for its new lead plant.
LEAD PRICE RISES
Lead, used in car batteries, cable covers and solder for pipes and plumbing,
rose 1.7 percent in value so far this month to $961 a ton on Monday for delivery
on the three months of the benchmark London Metal Exchange.
China is a major lead supplier in the world but its exports are falling due
to strong domestic demand.
In September its refined lead exports fell to 21,962 tons, down 37 percent
from August and 51 percent from July of 2005.
Small lead producers in Gejiu city in China's southwestern Yunnan province
struggle to pay big bucks to upgrade their smelters as the local environmental
authority monitor their emissions closely.
Three small lead producers in the city have merged to become Zhen Xing Lead
Co. in face of the stricter regulations, that require stronger financing
ability. Zhen Xing has capacity of 60,000 tons refined lead a year.
"The environmental authority monitors smelters' emissions 24 hours a day,"
said a senior executive for Zhen Xing, which is the largest lead producer in
More than 20 lead smelters, including Zhen Xing, are operating in Gejiu with
combined smelting capacity at about 200,000 tons a year.
"Others will have to do the same," the executive said, referring to mergers.
China produced 1.7 million tons of refined lead in the
first nine months this year, up 24.5 percent from a year ago.