BEIJING, Oct 31 (Reuters) - China Hongqiao, the world’s largest aluminium producer, has been ordered by the nation’s environmental regulator to shutter more than half of its capacity, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday.
The Shandong province-based company has been told by the environmental protection regulator of Zhouping county, which is administered by Binzhou city in Shandong province, to cease production at facilities in the county with a combined annual capacity of 3.61 million tonnes.
The reason was “failure to obtain environmental protection approvals before building and operating the facilities”, the paper said, citing filings posted by the regulator.
The firm was also ordered to stop construction of a 1.32 million tonne-a-year smelter, the regulator said, citing Hongqiao’s failure to seek a new environmental impact assessment approval before making major changes to a downstream processing plant.
It was also told to cease building a power plant with 4,800 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity, shut down a 1,320 MW power-and-heat co-generation plant and an alumina refinery, due to failures to obtain environmental approvals, according to the article posted on the South China Morning Post’s website.
The actions are listed in 11 filings posted by the environmental protection bureau on Zhouping county government’s website between May 27 and Sept. 23. The company has annual capacity of 5.89 million tonnes.
The firm’s spokesperson Christine Wong told the newspaper that it did not see the need to make an announcement about the bureau’s orders, adding that Hongqiao has neither paid fines nor ceased production at the facilities in question.
“We know that all of these issues are a result of a tightening environmental protection requirements from the government, which we can and will meet,” she told the Post.
“There is no need to make an announcement ... if we have to pay any fine or stop production, we will certainly make an announcement.”
She pointed to an edict from the Shandong provincial government last year, classifying projects which have failed to comply environment regulations into three categories.
Wong said all of the company’s facilities that are considered to have flouted rules belong to the “to be improved” category that need to reduce their environmental emissions further to meet potential future standards.
She added that Hongqiao has already finished all the rectification work and is waiting for relevant authorities to inspect its facilities before the year-end deadline. (Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)