Hebei China's steelmaker set to cut production to improve air quality

China’s top steelmaking region of Hebei set to cut 14 million tonnes of annual steelmaking capacity in both this year and next year as they strive to improve air quality.

Employees working at a construction site of Hebei  Province Beijing,China
Employees working at a construction site of Hebei
Province Beijing,China

 Wang Dongfeng also said the province would reduce its concentration of PM2.5 - lung-damaging particulate matter of fewer than 2.5 microns in diameter - by at least 5 per cent this year from 2018 levels during a meeting of Hebei delegates at the National People’s Congress in Beijing

 “We would rather sacrifice GDP in order to guard blue sky in Beijing. That’s a political task,” Wang said. 

 Hebei province, which surrounds the capital of Beijing in northern China, produced around 237 million tonnes of crude steel in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. 

That accounts for more than 25 percent of last year’s national total in China, the world’s biggest steelmaker.

 Home to major steel hubs such as Tangshan and Handan, Hebei’s average PM2.5 concentration in 2018 was 56 micrograms, according to government air quality data. 

The annual average was down 13 percent year-on-year but still well above a national reading of 39 micrograms. 

 At the start of this week’s parliamentary gathering, China set its 2019 GDP growth target at 6.0 to 6.5 percent, versus growth last year at 6.6 percent, the lowest since 1990.

 Unlike last year, China did not set a national target for reduction in steel capacity in 2019.

 A goal to cut 150 million tonnes by 2020 was achieved by the end of 2018. 

 During that same meeting , Hebei governor Xu Qin said the province had eliminated 82.23 million tonnes of annual steel capacity in 2013-18, while the number of steel companies operating in Hebei had halved over that period.

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