The central government launched a campaign yesterday to deal with environmental concerns in mining areas, particularly in regions where the number of public complaints is growing.
Irresponsible mine operators who put profit ahead of sustainable development are causing increasingly severe environmental problems by ignoring standards and requirements, said the State Environmental Protection Administration’s (SEPA’s) Liu Youbin.
SEPA, the Ministry of Land and Resources and the State Administration of Work Safety will jointly conduct the campaign until September. It will focus on vulnerable regions where mining is prohibited, such as water sources, nature reserves and scenic spots.
The investigators aim to check environmental threats to life and property as well as wastage of the country’s limited mineral resources, Liu said.
Part of the impetus for the campaign is China’s shortage of resources. Carried by the momentum of its fast-growing economy, China has become a major international buyer of oil and other minerals, like copper.
Officials believe that some of those purchases could be curtailed. Old technologies used in many mines, especially private and rural collective ones, have resulted in a mineral utilization rate much lower than the world’s average.
According to Liu, the ultimate aim of the campaign is to put out of business every mine operator found violating environmental polices.
Mines without proper licenses will be shut down while licensed mines will be required to meet environmental requirements.
“Unqualified” mines will have their electricity and water supplies cut off by commercial and industrial authorities.
Liu said that the campaign should bring home the importance of environmental impact assessments, making clear the fact that efforts to safeguard ecosystems cannot be secondary to bolstering profits.
(China Daily May 26, 2004)