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中国斥资46亿美元关闭小型煤矿

Michael McDonald 2016年02月01日

中国计划斥资数十亿美元来关闭小型煤矿,给下岗工人安排再就业。

中国经济进入了一个动荡的时期。人民币开始缓慢走低,政府正尽其所能,以每个月数十亿美元储备金的代价支撑货币。当下,中国政府正尝试着让中国的投资拉动型经济转型为消费拉动型经济,不过究竟能否取得成功还远未可知。在这种不确定的情况下,中国的煤矿将遭遇艰难的困境。

中国国企效率的低下尽人皆知。实际上,作为中国核心机制的这种命令与控制模式,无法催生出高效的公司。为了解决这一问题,中国正在着手整合许多行业,试图从规模经济中获得效益。此外,中国糟糕的环境和空气质量,也让问题显得迫在眉睫,但政府的解决方法对煤炭行业而言,注定将带来剧痛。

近日,中国宣布将在未来三年中斥资46亿美元关闭小型煤矿,让100万矿工再就业。此举是中国政府减少煤炭使用量、缓解让政府尴尬不已的空气问题的举措之一。政府认为,煤炭行业已经供给过度,希望减少该行业内公司,实现供需平衡。

按照计划,中国将关闭4300座煤矿,在未来三年中减少7亿吨煤炭产出。这期间政府也将不再批准新煤矿的开采。这一政策看起来很美,不过实践时可能会碰到预想不到的困难。

首先,许多煤矿规模很小,关闭它们无法实现供需平衡。中国国内的煤炭需求在2014年降低了2.9%,由于经济增速的减缓,在2015年恐怕还有4%的下滑。在过去五年中,中国已经关闭了7250座煤矿,减少了5.6亿吨煤炭产出,但现在中国仍有1.1万座煤矿。

中国每年供给过度的煤炭量高达20亿吨,随着国内对煤炭需求的减少,供需差距还会进一步拉大。因此,中国的措施只是稍微削弱了整体供需不平衡的状况。

不幸的是,关闭小型煤矿对中国的空气质量也没有太大作用。世界卫生组织表示,北京的空气质量依旧处于危险状态,致癌的颗粒物已经污染了空气。

这一问题很难通过简单手段解决。中国生产了大量钢铁,使用了大量煤炭,而这些炼钢厂防止污染的手段十分陈旧,有的甚至根本没有污染防护措施。此外,由于空气已经被污染,中国政府在短期内几乎做不了什么,只能等待大自然的自动净化——即便所有的空气污染问题立刻得到解决,净化过程也需数年时间。

所以,从整体上看,中国政府控制煤炭业规模的举措只是很小的一步。方向是正确的,但想要在一个三分之二的能源需求都来自煤炭的国家控制污染,只是关闭一些小煤矿还远远不够。(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

It’s a tumultuous time for the Chinese economy. The yuan is sinking slowly and the Chinese government is doing everything it can to prop up the currency at a cost of billions of dollars per month in reserves. The current government is trying to efficiently engineer a shift from an investment-led economy to a consumption-led economy, but success on that front is far from certain. Amid this uncertainty, it is a particularly rough time to be a coal mine in China.

Chinese state companies are widely regarded asextremely inefficient. The reality is that the command and control model, which is the backbone of the Chinese state, does not produce effective or efficient companies. To deal with this problem, China is consolidating many industries and trying to gain from economies of scale. Add to this China’s problem with a truly noxious atmosphere and abysmal air quality, and you have a recipe for significant pain in coal mining sector.

China recently announced that it will spend almost $4.6 billion over the next three years to shutter small coal mines and redeploy about 1 million workers that work those mines. The scheme is part of the Chinese government’s efforts to reduce its use of coal in an effort to quell problems with air quality that have embarrassed the central government. The government sees the coal sector as oversupplied and wants to cut down on the number of firms in that industry in an effort to bring supply and demand into balance.

China’s plan will close 4,300 mines resulting in production falling by 700 million tonnes over the next three years. The government is also banning the approval of new mines during that period. The scheme sounds good on paper, but the reality is likely to be more difficult that than the government hopes.

To begin with, many of these mines are small and shuttering them will not fix the supply demand imbalance. Domestic coal demand in China dropped by 2.9 percent annually in 2014 and it probably dropped a further 4 percent in 2015 thanks to the economic slowdown there. China still has 11,000 mines even after shuttering 7,250 of them in the last five years and cutting output by 560 million tonnes.

China likely has an oversupply of around 2 billion tonnes annually in coal produced and that oversupply grows larger as domestic demand drops. Thus China’s efforts are only going to make a small dent in the overall supply-demand imbalance.

Unfortunately, the plan to shutter coal mines will also have only a marginal effect on the air quality in China as well. The air quality in Beijing continues to be dangerous and contaminated by cancer causing particulate matter according the World Health Organization.

This problem cannot be fixed simply. China’s economy produces massive amounts of steel using large amounts of coal and those steel plants have antiquated pollution protection measures, if they have any such measures at all. Moreover, having already polluted their air, there is little the Chinese government can do in the short-term to reduce the damage other than wait for nature to take care of the problem on its own – a process that could take years even if all pollution issues were fixed imminently.

On the whole then, Beijing’s small steps towards right sizing its coal sector are just that; small steps. The movement is in the right direction, but the reality is that killing coal and pollution in a country that still uses the black rock for two-thirds of its energy needs will take a lot more than closing the country’s smallest mines.

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