This is one of a number of signs that China is becoming serious about the environment in general and the impact of pollutants from the iron and steel industry in particular. Clearly, the Beijing and provincial governments have a long way to go, but then so does the US industry and many others. Globally at present, the use of coke as a reductant/energy source means that the only real alternatives are DRI and EAFs. There is some use of charcoal – but many mills could significantly improve their efficiencies, as was discussed at SBB’s recent Green Steel Summit in Washington.
SBB 30 July 2010 Hunan province, China’s fourth largest coke-producing province, is banning any expansions in its coke industry over the next three years, Steel Business Briefing learns from a provincial government anouncement.
The Hunan Environmental Protection Department issued the notice on 22 July, saying there will not be any environment assessments done on any coke expansion projects for the next three years.
However, there are still some projects which are excluded from the ban, if they are included in the province’s coke industry development plan, but the provincial government tells SBB the plan is still under discussion.
These projects also need to have a minimum annual production of 100,000 tonnes and meet a series of environmental protection requirements such as installing a coke quenching water circulatory system and a process gas desulfurization system.
But small coke producers in Hunan have quite a cold response to this new policy, as they lack confidence in the market at the moment. “We have talked about cutting our production recently because of the currently poor sales. So this new policy won’t have any immediate influence,” an officer with a Hunan-based coke producer tells SBB.
Hunan province produced 21m tonnes coke in 2009, accounting for 6% of China’s total production. In January-June this year, Hunan produced 10m t of coke.