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Steel Giant Helps To Clear The Skies

Al Guo – Updated on Jul 18, 2008 – SCMP

The Capital Steel Group has reaffirmed its long-standing promise to cut production during the Games in a well-orchestrated publicity move by Beijing authorities to show the world its efforts to provide athletes and visitors with a clear sky and cleaner air.

Group president Zhu Jimin said that its plant in the capital’s western suburbs would run at only 27 per cent capacity to help cut emissions.

“Shougang [the Chinese name of the company] is a group with a strong sense of social responsibility,” he said. “I’m happy we can do our part to help present a great Olympics.”

He said Shougang could afford to cut production temporarily.

“Our group had record profits in the first half of the year, and I believe our profit in the second half should still be all right after we resume production after the Olympics.”

The group posted net income of 5.26 billion yuan (HK$6.03 billion) in the first half of the year – much higher than last year’s total of 4.36 billion yuan.

The company has shut down three big plants this year, allowing only one to run while the Games are on. Full operations will resume after October 1. However, Shougang will move all its steel production to Caofeidian in neighbouring Hebei province by 2010.

Founded in 1919 in Beijing, the group has contributed dramatically to the economic development of the capital, but its emissions are thought to be one of the main causes of the city’s pollution problems.

Although it has invested billions in the past decade to upgrade its filtering systems, the group has been at the centre of criticism whenever Beijing’s air pollution problems are mentioned.

Some academic research suggests the group is responsible for a tenth of all air pollution in Beijing.

In a move co-ordinated by the State Council and authorities in Beijing and Hebei, the group began building a new base in Caofeidian, Tangshan , in 2005. A newly built plant with an annual production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes will start running by October 18.

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