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MagMin 2017: Have China's environmental inspections changed the magnesia industry?

By Albert Li
Published: Friday, 28 July 2017

IM analyst Albert Li visited Chinese magnesia-producing city Dashqiao during MagMin 2017 to see the impact the environmental controls have had on the city.

Widespread Chinese environmental inspections have caused large-scale production shutdowns, but smoke-free skies may have proved short lived, IM's field trips found. 

Delegates from MagMin 2017, which took place in China for the first time earlier this month, attended a field trip to Dashiqiao in July to see firsthand the impact of the changes on the magnesia-producing city.

"Look at the blue sky in Dashiqiao, " a government official told IM, before asking him to take a photo. "We never had this kind of blue sky before. Dashiqiao has over 600 magnesia companies and their contribution to local GDP is more than 44%. It was grey and the air was full of dust; even the green leaves were covered by dust."

"Now local residents are really happy and fully supportive about the environmental checks after all production stopped. This is not just about now, it’s also about our children," the government official added.

MagMin2017 Dashiqiao Blue Sky
 MagMin2017: Temporary blue sky in Dashiqiao near a chemical company on 4 July 2017        source: Albert Li, www.indmin.com


"When the environmental inspection team from the central government arrived, they put posters in every village near the factories, asking villagers to report pollution with a reward. The village chiefs even asked them to do the same, even if it’s just for reward," he continued. 

"In the past, local authorities may have turned a blind eye to villager reports; they didn’t want to punish the pollution because this would affect the local government’s tax revenues," he said. "But now since the central government has a team here, no one can stand in between. This is why this time all production stopped and why this is called the most serious environmental inspection storm in China." 

Post inspection turnaround?

However, when the central government's inspection team left, the local government allowed the restart of some production immediately, IM was told by local sources who cited the governments heavy reliance on the tax revenues from the magnesia industry as the reason. 

During the MagMin field trips, most producers in Dashiqiao were in production and dust and smoke was spreading once more.

"IM should take the smoking chimney picture as your magazine’s cover to show readers how the environmental inspection storm has changed the industry – nothing seems to have changed," one delegate told IM during the field trip. 

 MagMin2017 Dashiqiao dust smoke  MagMin2017_Dashiqiao_smoke
MagMin2017: Smoke and dust could be seen in Dashiqiao again on 12 July                                    
source: Albert Li, www.indmin.com

Waiting game

While brick companies may be forced to start using natural gas instead of coal following the crackdown, many magnesia companies are still using coal because fundamental technology has not developed well enough, IM was told.

"New equipment is being used for desulfurition and denitration. But the question is, when will the unified standard come out, and when it comes, will there be another large-scale production stop?"an official from the local association commented to IM.

 

 MagMin2017_DBM kiln
Even the most advanced DBM kiln still uses coal
as a source material.    source: www.indmin.com

In the weeks since MagMin2017 Chinese prices, tracked by IM,  have continued to rise with market participants reporting ongoing tightness in supply.

To read more articles from Industrial Minerals' 2017 MagMin China event see the links below:

MagMin 2017: Magnesite resource consolidation would be 'devastating' for industry

MagMin 2017: Magnesia vs Fluorspar
MagMin 2017: Dynamite ban uncertainty hurting Chinese magnesite output

MagMin 2017: Magnesia supply shortage won't last long, China says



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