(Yicai Global) Feb. 14 -- The Chinese government has drafted a policy that highlights its big plans to improve smog control and marks the most powerful action taken in heavily polluted cities to date, Reuters reported.
Drafted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the policy will require steel and aluminum makers to cut production, prohibit Tianjin Port, one of the country's largest, to ship coal, and shut some fertilizer and pharmaceutical plants.
The five affected regions include Beijing, Tianjin as well as the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi and Henan. Some of them are big producers of steel and coal and have large populations that are plagued by smog. The northern part of China has suffered serious pollution for several years. Heavy industry, coal-fired heating and increased vehicle missions have caused bigger cities, including Beijing, to be covered in thick smog.
The ministry plans to at least halve steel and fertilizer production and cut aluminum output by at least 30 percent across 28 cities in the five regions over the winter heating season. It will ban Tianjin Port from transferring coal until the end of July, with operations shifted to Tangshan Port, 130 kilometers further north. Last year, Tianjin handled 17 percent of China's coal imports. Before the end of September, all the coal at container ports in Tianjin and Hebei province must be transported by rail. Coal transfer by diesel trains is not permitted.
The ministry has issued a document to solicit opinions from local governments and companies, a source said. It isn't clear when the plan, which is one of the country's most stringent initiatives since its air pollution campaign began three years ago, will be carried out. Reports said that the ministry did not make comments regarding the document.
Coal, steel and aluminum have all been supported by China's efforts to trim excess capacity and clean up polluting industries. The new policy may increase prices. However, a long-term cut in production will cause concern over the demand for raw materials, including iron ore.
The document also shows the environmental ministry plans to shut down pesticide and fertilizer plants and pharmaceutical factories using urea, unless there is an urgent need for chemicals and pharmaceuticals.