Today the city in Hunan province registered an air quality index of close to 250, regarded as “very unhealthy”. Still, the index, which measures particulate matter PM2.5, was close to 280 at the same time last year.
It was home to the Zhuzhou Smelter Group, the world’s fifth largest, until a nationwide call to transform old, polluting industrial facilities forced its state-backed owner Minmetals to uproot and relocate the flagship complex to neighboring Changning in December 2018.
And on Wednesday January 30, the Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed Zhuzhou smelter filed a profit alert on an expected net loss of 1.63 billion yuan ($242 million) for the year 2018, blaming poor figures on the new smelter build and a 17% loss of zinc output.
The original decision to move the smelter dates back to 2014, but Zhuzhou’s costly transition is emblematic of a wider trend. China is in the midst of an...