China's Henan Mingtai allowed to go ahead with delayed construction of aluminum plant
SEOUL, AJU - Henan Mingtai Aluminum Industrial, an aluminum sheet manufacturer in China, was allowed to go ahead with the delayed construction of an aluminum plant in South Korea's free economic zone after a ground-breaking ceremony was delayed for 11 months due to protests and concerns about pollution.
A ground-breaking ceremony will be held on December 9 in the southern industrial port city of Gwangyang, according to Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone Authority, which manages a free economic zone in the port city.
The Chinese company would invest some 100 billion won ($84.7 million) to build the plant, which will be put into commercial operation in August next year mainly to roll out 100,000 tons of plates and 20,000 tons of foil a year.
Henan Mingtai has selected Gwangyang for its geographical advantage. About 30 percent of products to be exported by Henan Mingtai's plant in Gwangyang would go to the U.S. market. Official data that South Korea imports 177,000 tons of plates and 49,000 tons of foil from China.
Construction was to begin in January, but some citizens and domestic firms have opposed the aluminum plant, citing concerns about pollution, possible damage to domestic firms and a trade dispute. Economic zone authorities have sponsored public hearings, attended by city officials, experts, citizens and environmental activists, to work out a general consensus on November 5.
The economic zone's operator has insisted the aluminum plant would not cause pollution because it uses electricity and natural gas with no smelting process that extracts pure aluminum from ore by using fossil fuel. The presidential office has supported the plant in Gwangyang, saying it would ease a shortage of raw materials at home.