China's Steel Mills Need to Shrink

The country needs to transition to modern "mini-mills," as the U.S. has.

Traditional plants spew out far more CO2 than modern mini-mills.

Source: AFP/Getty Images

In the space of 30 years, China has become the world’s largest steelmaker by a long margin. Decades of rapid economic growth fed huge demand for infrastructure and housing, all of which required massive volumes of steel. As the Chinese economy slows, however, all that capacity is proving a burden both economically and environmentally. Chinese steelmakers churned out 822 million tons of steel last year, losing an average of $50 on every ton. Meanwhile, their outmoded, polluting plants account for most of the global iron-and-steel industry’s enormous 6.7 percent contribution to global carbon emissions.

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