BEIJING (Reuters) – Local officials in China’s northern Shandong province have used fake data to help aluminum and steel producers avoid mandatory production curbs, the state-run China Youth Daily reported, citing a Ministry of Environmental Protection inspection team.
“Local official have covered up for aluminum producers, leading them to build up their capacity,” the Youth Daily reported citing a letter from the inspection team.
China has imposed its most stringent measures on heavy industry, including steel, aluminum and coal mining, to reduce production in a battle against air pollution.
Closures of steel plants, coal mines and aluminum smelters have roiled commodities market since the start of 2016, leading to a rally in prices.
The sharply-worded letter from the environment ministry could be an indication that Beijing is tightening its scrutiny of heavy industries to force them to comply with the capacity cuts.
The ministry said officials in major aluminum producing city Binzhou had used fake certificates and false data to obtain approval for the construction of 2.4 million tonnes of new aluminum production capacity in 2014.
In addition, major steel producer Rizhao Steel was still running a mill with 5.94 million tonnes of capacity that was due to shut in 2015.
Rizhao Steel and the Ministry of Environmental Protection were not immediately available for comment.
Reporting by Meng Meng and Aizhu Chen; Editing by Peter Graff