17 more cement plants biting the dust

Updated: 2014-02-18 02:04

By ZHENG JINRAN in Shijiazhuang (China Daily)

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Hebei continues with project to cut excess capacity in polluting sectors

Work began in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, on Monday on the demolition of another 17 cement factories, two months after the first batch of demolitions to improve air quality.

"After the second batch of demolitions is finished in March, we can meet the target of reducing excess capacity three years ahead of schedule, reducing production capacity by 40 percent," said Wang Liang, the mayor of Shijiazhuang. Hebei has been hit by many smoggy days in February, causing serious pollution. On Monday, the air quality index exceeded 200 in the morning.

To control pollution, the provincial government has announced goals for cutting excess capacity in high-polluting industries, including cement production in every city. Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital, must dismantle 15 million metric tons of cement production capacity by 2017.

17 more cement plants biting the dust 

A cement plant in Pingshan county, Hebei province, is demolished on Monday. The province has vowed to tear down more plants to improve air quality.ZHAO WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

The demolition of 18 cement powder-making systems and 377 storage bins at the 17 plants will be completed by the end of March, reducing the production capacity by 9.1 million tons.

The 17 plants produced cement that met national standards, but have been forced to close to improve air quality, with cement production a high-polluting industry.

The two batches of demolitions have targeted 35 plants at major production bases, resulting in direct economic losses of 1.1 billion yuan ($180 million) and affecting 3,780 workers.

"We may suffer slow economic growth in the short term, but this will work in upgrading the economic structure and result in a good living environment for our people, so it is worthwhile," said Sun Ruibin, Party chief of Shijiazhuang.

Wang Jiangtao, marketing manager at Yuancheng Construction Material Co, one of plants being demolished in the city of Luquan, said, "We will follow the government project, and want to control air pollution as well, so we agreed to close the plant.

"But it's still sad to see the plants being demolished," he said, adding that the company invested more than 30 million yuan in a new system in 2011. "We have not made enough money to cover the expenses up to now," Wang said.

Under government compensation plans, the plant may get about 10 million yuan and will receive other support for its future business, including preferential policies and tax relief, Wang added.

Two of Jinyu Dingxing Cement Co's plants were among the first batch of demolitions in December, but so far new projects have not been decided on, said Feng Jinmin, a manager at one of the two plants that were closed.

"Of the 15 million yuan in compensation expected from the government, we have received half and are still awaiting government guidance on our future business," he said, adding that this may take years.

All 59 workers at the Yuancheng Construction Material Co lost their jobs after the closures.

"I worked to move equipment out of the plant in preparation for the demolition on Sunday, but now I have to find a new job to support my family," said one 50-year-old worker who would only give his surname, Pan.

He worked at the plant for five years, earning about 3,000 yuan a month, and said working conditions improved only slightly after dust removal equipment was installed.

"I didn't think the equipment improved the air quality that much," the man said. His statement was supported by three residents living near the plant who came to see the demolition. They all agreed that the authorities need to implement more measures to control the sources of air pollutants.