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Henan enforces mass brown fused alumina shutdown from November

The Henan government has ramped up efforts to combat pollution by implementing yet more shutdowns of brown fused alumina production later this year. This is set to cause more global supply disruptions since output was already intermittent in recent months.

The government of Henan province in China will enforce large-scale brown fused alumina production stoppages from November 2017 – March 2018 in a bid to cut down pollution levels in the region, according to official documentation.

China is one of the biggest fused alumina producers in the world and Henan is a key fused alumina producing region.

Further output cuts will severely impact exports to the refractories and abrasive sectors globally, since production was already intermittent due to the past months of anti-pollution checks, market participants told IM.

According to the provincial capital Zhengzhou government, the province must meet the target of the environmental plan, it announced on 28 September.

Under the plan, the average concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5) between October 2017 and March 2018 must fall by 20% year-on-year, and the number of severe pollution days must also reduce by 15%.

By end of October, all steel and cement producers must complete their paperwork for emission licenses, while copper, zinc, lead smelters, aluminium, pharmaceutical and pesticide producers must obtain their licences by December 2017.

Companies releasing pollutants without licenses will be prosecuted, according to Zhengzhou government.
In a separate notice seen by IM, a list of 51 brown fused alumina producers across Zhengzhou, Jiaozuo, Luoyang,
Sanmenxia, Jiyuan, Gongyi and Lankao have been compelled by the government authority to shut down for a set period of time, between 15 November and 15 March 2018.

While it is not a blanket ban to all producers to shut down production in the next four months, 42 on the list are allowed to produce for one month in January 2018, while five have ceased operation indefinitely.

It is unclear when the environmental restrictions will end, but many market participants within and outside China believe that many small fused alumina producers will not survive this wave of checks. As a result, the total output in China could potentially drop in 2017.

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