December 3, 2021: By 2025, heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and thallium will have to be curbed by 5% over 2020 levels, China’s environmental ministry announced on November 22, commodity analysts Fastmarkets reported.
It lists lead-acid battery manufacturing, non-ferrous metal mining, mined material processing, non-ferrous and industrial metal smelting and electro-galvanizing as sectors that will be subject to the new targets.
The Global Times, the Chinese government mouthpiece, said local governments would be encouraged to impose even higher standards if they had the ability to do so, ‘and capacity that can’t meet environmental standards even after upgrading will be shut down’.
“Moreover, regulators will keep a close eye on new construction or the expansion and renovation of existing projects, to make sure that the work complies with relevant environmental impact assessment requirements,” the publication says.
It also adds that the 5% target was not particularly high.
“The five per cent target is a little low compared with previous targets, but it shows that China has made some achievements in fighting heavy metal pollution, as the process will become more difficult when it approaches the end,” the paper quotes Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, as saying.
While he admitted that China’s heavy metal pollution was higher than in many developed countries, Lin said it was better than most developing ones “as China has made continuous efforts to adjust its industrial structure”.
Much of the heavy metals pollution finds its way into water, which will require stricter monitoring, the paper says.