China implements 10 stricter rules on secondary lead industry

China lead

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has introduced a raft of measures aiming at cutting pollution caused by the scrap lead acid battery industry, the Shanghai Metals Market reported on December 21.

Ten specific measures were listed in the regulations, including limiting the construction or expansion of secondary lead projects and the enforced relocation of existing smelters or storage facilities to at least a kilometre away from any residential or sensitive areas.

The regulations insist that complete management systems are put in place at lead smelters to ensure that any new products meet the new national standards.

Secondary lead smelters can now only process intact batteries with no acid leakage, or those considered to have more than 5% damage. Automatic battery crushing and sorting facilities must be used to dispose of scrap batteries, and technology should be upgraded so that energy consumption is minimal and production made more efficient.

Detailed requirements of emissions targets and licence criteria are all included in the regulations.

Pollution has been a contentious topic in China for the past few decades, and recent reports in Beijing’s own state media reported middle-class parents taking to social media to complain about the health risks to their children, with inadequate air filtering systems in schools and almost unbreathable outside air.

The growing concerns appear to have had an effect, with the emphasis clearly on environment protection at the likely expense of profit where the smelters are concerned.

Earlier in December the SMM reported that Chinese lead smelters had reported lower production in the seven regions of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hubei, Chongqing, Shaanxi and Gansu following environmental crackdowns in which inspection teams were sent to supervise operations.

Secondary lead smelters in the metropolises of Tianjin and Hebei were also required to cut output as a result of heavy air pollution, the SMM said.