China industry ministry to ban new steel project expansions

11 January 2019

China will “strictly prohibit” the expansion of new iron and steel projects in 2019, the country’s industry minister told the official Xinhua agency in an interview on Thursday.

Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said the capacity expansion ban would also apply to the cement and flat-glass industries, which were already subject to restrictions in 2018, while newly added primary aluminum capacity would continue to be “strictly controlled”.

A transcript of the interview did not specify what Miao meant by a “new” project but China, the world’s top producer of both steel and aluminum, has been clamping down on new industrial capacity built without the necessary approvals in its fight against pollution.

The country last March set a target to cut around 30 million tonnes of annual production capacity from its bloated steel sector, which currently has a total capacity of around 900 million tonnes, in 2018.

It was also striving to meet a five-year goal of cutting 150 million tonnes by 2020 two years early.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, said in June it would ban new capacity for steel, coke and primary aluminum in some key areas, including the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and Yangtze River Delta regions, but Miao did not say on Thursday if the ban he mentioned would have limited geographical scope.

China will support key regions in cutting steel capacity further this year, he said, pledging deeper supply-side reform in industrial sectors.