BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- China will not approve lead smelting projects with an annual capacity of less than 50,000 tons, according to the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC).
The new regulations governing the lead and zinc industries issued by the SDRC recently require that the existing regenerated lead projects should have an annual capacity of more than 10,000 tons, and the capacity of expanded projects should be more than 20,000 tons. An annual capacity of more than 50,000 tons is required for new regenerated lead projects.
The regulations also require new lead and zinc mines to have at least an annual capacity of more than 30,000 tons, and an operation life of 15 years.
According to the SDRC, the new regulations will pave way for the adjustment of the lead and zinc industrial structure and sustainable development.
China had 411 lead and zinc mines and 466 lead and zinc smelting enterprises at the end of 2005. The capacity of crude lead was 2.2 million tons and the output of zinc was 3.4 million tons in 2005.
Despite rapid growth in the lead and zinc industries, China faces challenges in maintaining sustainable development in the sector due to a shortage of resources, unbalanced profits between enterprises, weak competitiveness and low and out-of-date smelting technologies. Problems such as the waste of resources and blind investment also affected the smooth development of the industry.
Analysts said the new regulations mean to eliminate out-of-date production facilities and technologies, to maintain a balance between output and demand and orderly development of lead and zinc industry.
Last year, nine government ministries, including the SDRC, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Land and Resource, set to eliminate backward production facilities and technologies by 2010.