Shanxi Province Institutes Limits on Water Use for Aluminium Producers

Aluminium producers in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi are facing another hurdle in bringing their product to market after the provincial government instituted water usage rules for a handful of the local heavy industries.

According to state-run media, the Development and Reform Commission decreed that steel, cement, and aluminium manufacturers who use more than their government-approved allotment of water will be assessed incremental levies beginning last Friday.

Industrial users who are found to use less than 20 percent more than their allotment will find their water costs doubled, while those who use 60 percent or more will pay quintuple for water and may incur a water shut-off in extreme cases.

This development could prove to be another millstone about the neck of local producers already facing mandatory 20-percent production cuts for the winter. In addition to Beijing’s push to limit aluminium production, the coal-rich and heavy-industry haven Shanxi has pledged to drop fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) by 40 percent in the non-summer months.

Though lagging behind the rest of the country in GDP, Shanxi possesses a thriving and robust industrial sector. Sitting atop around a third of China’s known coal and bauxite ore deposits, investors both foreign and domestic have poured billions of dollars into the province in efforts at harvesting its rich reserves. Shanxi is the home of more coal companies than any other Chinese province, and produces over 300 million metric tons of the mineral per annum.

However, the bountiful harvest has come with a price, as the mineral that has made mine owners wealthy has often been brought to the surface using dangerous and often lethal methods. Thousands of mine workers perish on the job each year, and recently the use of children in mining activities has been documented at some operations in the province.

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