China introduces plan to reduce heavy metal emissions by 5% by 2025

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Chinese authorities recently presented a draft plan to reduce heavy metal emissions by 5% by 2025.

As noted previously here, the move comes after Beijing moved to stabilize surging coal prices. The government moved to increase both coal imports and domestic output.

The Dalian coking coal price surged to $694 per metric ton in late October. However, the key steelmaking input has plunged by approximately 33% since then. Coking coal this week week fell to $464 per metric ton.

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China’s metals emissions plan

China map

Zerophoto/Adobe Stock

The government posted the plan on the Ministry of Ecology and Environment website, inviting the general people to comment.

The plans includes language indicating it will take efforts to eliminate obsolete and excess capacity in the heavy metals sector, Chinese tabloid the Global Times reported.

China will accelerate the transfer of professional electroplating companies to special industrial parks, the Global Times reported.

China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. Much of China’s emissions come from coal-fired power generation.

In October, as we noted in previous reports and the Monthly Metal Outlook (MMO), Beijing moved to stabilize the coal market amid supply fears. As a result, China increased imports and ramped up domestic output.

Long road ahead on emissions

China’s State Council, however, seems a little skeptical about the new anti-pollution targets.

A report by news agency Reuters recently said in a report that China had a long road ahead on environmental protection.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that according to the State Council, while there had been some improvement in the country’s ecological situation since the launch of its anti-pollution campaign, it would be tough to tackle pollution and ensure that carbon emissions peaked in 2030. Furthermore, China has also pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Data by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment show that China’s emissions of heavy metals in waste water decreased from 167.8 tons in 2016 to 120.7 tons in 2019. That marked a decline of 28%, the Global Times reported.

Some of the heavy metal pollutants on China’s control and prevention list include lead and mercury. Those are largely used by the electroplating industry, the chemical manufacturing industry and the leather tanning business.

Pollution problem

Environment pollution has been troubling China for a long time. A study by a USC-led team in 2020 illustrated the severity of the problem.

The team had found that emissions from coal-fired power plants in China were “fertilizing” the North Pacific Ocean with a metal nutrient important for marine life.

“This work shows fossil fuel burning has a side effect: the release of iron and metals into the atmosphere that carry thousands of miles and deposit in the ocean where they can impact marine ecosystems,” said Seth John, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of Earth sciences at USC Dornsife. “Certain metal deposits could help some marine life thrive while harming other life.”

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