Short items

Huge coal chemical project 

On 24 November, Shandong Province-based Jiutai Energy Group, an affiliate of Yanzhou Coal Mining Firm, signed a deal with Caofeidian Industrial Park in Hebei Province, to invest 50 billion yuan (US$6.7 billion) to build a gigantic coal chemical plant. It is the first plant of its kind in the industrial park, located near Beijing. Upon expected completion in 2015, the project will have a production capacity of 10 million tonnes of methanol, 3 million tonnes of dimethyl ether, and 1 million tonnes of olefin extracted from coal produced nearby. Jiutai is already the largest dimethyl ether producer in the world. If approved by the government, the coal chemical project will be the largest ineastern China.   

First coal industry policy released 

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s power industry watchdog, released the country’s first coal industry policy on 29 November.   

The policy has set a strict industry entry threshold, encouraging industry restructuring through merger and acquisition, improved productivity, and increased efficiency.   

According to the document, for example, one mining zone can only be developed by one mining firm. Until now, thousands of small coal mines have mushroomed around major, often State-owned, mines. For labour protection, it has recommended that mining firms should cut the daily underground working time to below six hours.   

Sanofi-aventis plans vaccine factory   

The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-aventis signed a deal with Shenzhen municipal government on 26 November to establish a €70million (US$95.5 million) flu vaccine plant in the southern Chinese city. The deal was signed in the presence of the visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chinese president Hu Jintao in Beijing. When it opens in 2012, the factory will be the largest vaccine plant in China, producing 25 million doses of seasonal flu vaccines annually. It could also produce H5N1 avian flu vaccine if a bird flu pandemic breaks out. China’s vaccine market was estimated to be €480 million (US$720 million) in 2006, in which foreign drugmakers account for 22 per cent of shares.