BEIJING Chinese steelmakers could face further financial pressure after the countrys Ministry of Environmental Protection said it would impose new emissions rules on new steel mills as early as March 1.
This comes after the government imposed fresh pollution standards last October. The latest action is thought to have been inspired by the rash of urban fog problems that hit Chinese cities this winter.
The new rules, which also apply to five other heavily polluting industries, such as power generation, will come into force over the next three years in 47 major-city metropolitan areas, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, the ministry said.
New steel projects will be subject to new emission standards from March 1, it added.
Existing plants will become subject to restrictions imposed starting Jan. 1, 2015, with a special focus on those with sintered steelmaking operations, the agency said.
The ministry said it would take strict measures to control levels of atmospheric pollutants, particularly emission limits. The decision follows a meeting of the ministrys executive convened by its minister Zhou Shengxian.
However, the ministry has yet to release the details of the new pollution standards as far as the steel sector is concerned. They are expected to be out soon.
The rules in force from Oct. 1 stipulate that powder dust emissions, sulfur dioxide emissions and water consumption per tonne of steel produced shouldnt exceed 1.19 kilograms, 1.63 kg and 4.1 cubic meters, respectively.
Meanwhile, the ministry said China must upgrade its industrial equipment to counter the unprecedented environmental challenges it faces over the next five years as it deals with rising auto sales, rapid industrialization and higher urbanization rates.
Earlier this month, the countrys 80 largest steelmakers reported that the combined industry after-tax profit fell more than 98 percent to just 1.58 billion yuan ($251 million), largely as a result of overcapacity and a sluggish domestic economy.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.