China’s Hebei province accounts for about 25% of the nation’s steel output, but that fell to under 20% in the last two months of 2013, reports David Stanway at Reuters.
Beijing has said that it is serious about its crackdown on the pollution problem and has called for heavy industries to cut capacity. Environmental protection is expected to be one of top agenda items at the upcoming National People’s Congress.
This has caused many to shutter operations entirely and abandoned mills have been dubbed “zombie” mills.
But steel is also one of China’s sectors burdened by excess capacity.
And Stanway writes that many of the mills in Hebei are close to bankruptcy, as demand slows and the price of steel falls. He thinks these mills were bound to close anyway.
Zhang Yiqian at Global Times reports that this hasn’t just meant a loss of jobs but a loss of savings for many villagers that put their savings into these mills. In some areas, China has tried to turn the abandoned land back into farms, but some are untenable for farming.
We drew on some images of these “zombie” mills from Petar Kujundzic at Reuters.
Dozens of “zombie” mills have popped up in and around Tangshan, an industrial city in China’s Hebei province.
Heibei which is home to seven million people, was asked to cut steel capacity in an effort to cut down on pollution.
A deserted house with beds and a hearth is pictured inside an abandoned steel mill of Qingquan Steel Group in Qianying township.
But many of the mills are close to bankruptcy and would have had to be shuttered anyway. Workers at the Qingquan mill went on strike in October after they weren’t paid for six months.