A national newspaper in the People’s Republic of China has reported on allegations leveled at local officials in Shandong claiming that they employed doctored numbers in order to avoid carrying out mandatory aluminium and steel production cuts.
According to Reuters, state-run newspaper China Youth Daily published a report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection accusing officials in Binzhou of using fake data and forged certificates to authorize construction of 2.4 million metric tons of new aluminium capacity in 2014.
“Local official have covered up for aluminum producers, leading them to build up their capacity,” read a terse report prepared by the Ministry.
The report went on to say that major steel producer Rizhao Steel continues to operate 5.94 million metric tons of steel capacity in the city that was scheduled to be curtailed in 2015.
According to experts, such a report may be an indication that the national government is attempting to ratchet up enforcement efforts on aluminium and steel capacity curtailment efforts. Such efforts have been ramped up in recent months to combat seasonal smog increases especially in and around Beijing and China’s east coast. However, opinions in the aluminium community have been sharply divided regarding the government’s resolve in making meaningful cuts in aluminium capacity.
Binzhou, which is located in northern Shandong 364 miles south-southeast of Beijing, was explicitly included in the national government’s 2+26 anti-smog campaign. The campaign, which was announced in early April, mandated cuts of up to 30 percent of aluminium-smelting and alumina-refining capacity from mid-November through mid-March in order to offset increased coal burning necessitated by winter weather. At the time MEP vowed a policy of zero tolerance would be enforced against parties who failed to comply with these mandates.
According to Reuters, representatives of Rizhao Steel and the Ministry of Environmental Protection did not immediately respond to requests for comment upon the story.