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State Owned Enterprises Must Protect Natural Resources
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State owned enterprises (SOEs) should bear more responsibility in China's drive to save energy, reduce pollution, and develop recycling economies, said a deputy to the ongoing annual National People's Congress.

Li Mingmin, who is also president of the Laigang Group, an iron and steel company based in Laiwu, Shandong Province, said that SOEs should not pursue fast short-term growth at the cost of excessive consumption of natural resources and environmental pollution.

"Environmental protection and energy saving have become major concerns for the nation as it enters a critical period of rapid growth," Li said.

Iron and steel companies, which rely heavily on natural resources, should make more efforts to reduce pollution and save energy, according to Li.

"State owned iron and steel enterprises should concentrate more on the introduction of higher technology rather than consuming natural resources to maintain fast growth," Li said.

To this end, Li said that entrepreneurs of SOEs should play a key role in saving energy and protecting the environment.

"Entrepreneurs should be responsible not only for their companies, but also for the nation and the environment we are living in," he said.

SOEs, iron and steel entities in particular, should develop a recycling economic mode to sustain fast growth, Li added.

As one of the nation's leading state-owned iron and steel companies, Laigang has attached great importance to saving natural resources and environmental protection, he noted.

The company outlined its blueprint for development of recycling early in 2001.

Since then, the company has earmarked more than 2 billion yuan for environmental protection and the upgrading of recycling technology and facilities.

As a result, the company's energy consumption has been gradually reduced, with comprehensive energy consumption per ton of coal dropping by 193 kilograms and water consumption per ton reduced from 13.58 tons to 3.53 tons.

It has saved more than 3.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, 323 million tons of water and total energy worth 3.6 billion yuan (US$461 million) since 2001, Li said.

In terms of developing recycling operations, Laigang has introduced advanced technology to adjust its steel production lines and optimize energy consumption over the past five years.

During the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-10), the company will shift its focus to recycling projects, including improvement of techniques, equipment, and other facilities, said Li.

"By doing so, we aim to build the company into a model company in environmental protection and energy saving among state owned entities," he explained.

(China Daily March 13, 2007)

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