China's largest coke production base is now being built in Luliang Prefecture, Shanxi Province, with the majority investment coming from private and overseas investors.
According to Jin Jianzhong, a deputy commissioner of the prefecture, who is a graduate of the China Mining University and the official responsible for local coke industry, Luliang boasts a coal reserve of 28.27 billion tons, including 6.2 billion tons of best quality coking coal, or 16.8 percent of the country's coking coal resources.
For decades, local people had been engaged in producing coke through traditional methods, resulting in heavy waste of coal resources and severe environmental pollution, Jin said. Local government plans to close down all traditional coking plants and build 24 modern coke plants, with a total annual capacity of 10 million tons, he said.
The official attributed the booming of the local coke sector to the "rare opportunity" to upgrade its coking industry at a time when the global coke output has been decreasing due to the fact that many foreign coking companies are reducing production by abandoning old equipment. Instead of developing their own coke industry, many international coke consumers are now turning to the Chinese market.
According to official figures, in 1999, China exported 9.97 million tons of coke, including 2.5 million tons from Luliang Prefecture.
(People's Daily 05/31/2001)