SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Central government inspectors slammed the state-owned China Minmetals Corp Ltd for the second time in a week on Thursday, describing one of its steelmaking units as a “repeat offender” when it comes to violating environmental regulations.
According to a notice posted on the environment ministry’s official Wechat account, Minmetals Yingkou Medium-Sized Plate Co Ltd in the northeastern province of Liaoning had failed to replace its outdated blast furnaces and production lines, and had not properly dealt with pollution discharges.
The subsidiary, which has an annual steel production capacity of 6 million tonnes, had also fraudulently applied for special “green factory” status from the local government, even though it had been fined a total of 23.3 million yuan ($3.3 million) for violations from 2014 to 2018, the notice said.
A spokesman for Minmetals told Reuters that the company would “further strengthen” the management of the Yingkou subsidiary and “conscientiously rectify” the problems identified during the surprise inspection. It will also conduct an investigation to determine who was responsible for the lapses.
Minmetals is one of two state-owned enterprises now subject to a comprehensive central government audit into environmental compliance, along with the China National Chemical Corp.
The audits were first launched in 2015 to look at the compliance records of local governments. Inspection teams are led by retired senior Communist Party officials and they have the authority to visit any site at any time and summon any official to explain their conduct.
As a result of the inspections, Minmetals said last week that it would suspend operations at a rare earth subsidiary that had also failed to rectify a series of environmental offences.
Reporting by David Stanway in SHANGHAI and Tom Daly in BEIJING; editing by Gopakumar Warrier