Almost 150 officials from two centrally administered State-owned enterprises have been held accountable for environmental violations exposed in the country’s high-profile central environmental inspections, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.
Among them, 95 are from China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group, which was covered by the inspection from Aug 26 to Sept 26 in 2021, and 29 were punished because of lingering violations in its subsidiary Daye Non-Ferrous Metals Group.
Working under ministerial-level officials, teams of the central environmental inspection report to a central group headed by Vice-Premier Han Zheng and its office is based in the ministry.
Three major environmental violations existed for an extended period of time without being rectified at Daye, which is based in Hubei province, according to the ministry.
A tailings pond of a Daye copper mine, for example, was built only 800 meters away from the trunk of the Yangtze River. With no interceptor ditch, a large amount of wastewater in the pond was carried into the Yangtze by rainwater.
In one of its smelting plants, sludge and wastewater containing heavy metals was discharged directly into a pipe network meant for rainwater, it said.
“Since 2017, local governments and relevant departments summoned Daye and sent notices to it seven times to urge for rectifications. The company, however, worked perfunctorily to cope with the requests all the time,” the ministry noted.
CNMC not only failed to timely identify outstanding environmental violations that had existed in Daye for a long time, it said, but didn’t attach adequate importance to supervising and urging the company to rectify these violations.
The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council established a work group to investigate CNMC and held six of its leading officials accountable for the lingering problems, according to the ministry.
Aside from summoning all officials that worked as CNMC heads since 2015, the commission also decided to give warnings to Yan Diyong, former CNMC deputy general manager, and Fan Wei, current deputy general manager of the company.
At Daye, former Party chief and president Zhai Baojin was removed from his position within the Party and was also given an administrative demotion.
China National Gold Group was also covered by the central inspection from Aug 26 to Sept 26. A total of 50 officials from the group were punished, according to the ministry.
Inspectors found that a CNGC subsidiary named Jinchangyu illegally exploited mines on a large scale starting in 2013. When local authorities suspended the approval of new open pit mines in 2016, the subsidiary mined under the guise of risk control in existing mines.
“It mined without a license for an extended period of time,” it said, adding the operation made some small land cave-ins evolve into even worse damage in vast areas.
The company illegally exploited over 2.8 million metric tons of gold ore from 2016 to 2020, resulting in a pit with a diameter of roughly 470 meters and an average depth of 140 meters, it added.
Zhao Heping, Jinchangyu’s Party chief and executive director, Tian Fenglou, the company’s general manager, and Li Xiaojun, former deputy general manager of the company, were given demerit records.