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China shuts all lead, zinc mines in Hunan's Huayuan in effort to clean up mining sector

Highlights

China has shut all lead and zinc mines in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous prefecture, located in Hunan province's Huayuan county, as part of the government's overall efforts to clean up the lead and zinc mining sector, the prefecture government said in a report on its website Tuesday. Hunan is main lead and zinc mining zone in China.

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Since August 15, the government has halted power supply to all lead and zinc mines in the county -- with all mines now having suspended operations -- in response to the State Administration of Work Safety's, or SAWS, request to clean up the local mining sector.

The mining reform, which will last until June 2017, aims to prevent mining accidents and ensure safety in mining, the prefecture government said.

Mines which have exhausted their resources will be asked to withdraw from the market, while those which have mineable industrial resources in place, but are seen to be fraught with danger, will have their reserves assessed, and asked to take preventive safety measures, the report said.

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Mines are only allowed to resume operations following government approval, and the issuance of licenses by SAWS, it said.

The county has a total of 26 zinc and lead mines, with proven lead and zinc resources estimated at 6.5 million mt, figures from Ministry of Land and Resources showed.

China is forecast to have a mined zinc deficit of 390,000 mt in 2016, widening from a deficit of 9,000 mt a year ago, state-owned Chinese metals consultancy Beijing Antaike said in its zinc sector report issued in end-June.

The report attributed the widening deficit to continuous decline in domestic mined zinc supply this year, because of lower operation rates at some mining zones in China.

China's national mined zinc output is forecast to grow just 3.5% year on year to 4.4 million mt this year, while its net zinc concentrate import volume this year is estimated at 900,000 mt, down 40% from 1.496 million mt last year, according to Antaike.

--Joshua Leung, newsdesk@platts.com
--Edited by Irene Tang, irene.tang@spglobal.com