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Shougang to auction off furnaces
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Shougang Group, a Chinese iron and steel maker, announced Monday it would auction off most of its blast furnaces in western Beijing.

The No 5 furnace, the first large facility ever constructed for iron making by Shougang, will be the first to be sold, said a source of the group.

With a capacity of 1,036 cubic meters, this furnace stopped production in July 2005. That's when Shougang was ordered to relocate to Caofeidian, an islet in the Bohai Sea, in order to reduce pollution before the Olympic Games.

Altogether 30 million tons of iron had been produced through this furnace.

Yanhuang Auction Co Ltd, a Beijing-based firm that will be responsible for the auction, confirmed the plan.

"Each bidder is required to go through registration procedures with the auction company," said a Yanhuang spokesman.

Potential bidders can look at Shougang's assets listed for auction, which include the No 5 furnace and other equipment such as refrigerating machinery and cranes from the Beijing coking plant, Tuesday through 9 am Friday.

The auction firm declined to disclose financial terms for the auction and an exact date has not been set.

Founded in 1919, Shougang is widely considered the flagship of China's heavy industry. With its production based just 17 km west of Tian'anmen Square in central Beijing, it has five iron blast furnaces and one coking oven at its Shijingshan plants.

Shougang Group began relocating its facilities to Hebei Province in 2005 due to the government's efforts to reduce air-pollution in Beijing. The company promised its new facility would use advanced technologies to reduce environmental impact.

Through June, it had extinguished fires at two of its blast furnaces and one coking oven. The remaining furnaces will close by 2010.

"Only one or two of them will be kept as a reminder of industrial relics, the remainder will all be auctioned off like the No 5 furnace," said a Shougang executive who declined to be identified.

After relocation, Shougang said the old factory site in western Beijing will be developed into a complex for tourism, entertainment, business, and residential housing.

(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2008)

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