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Major industries concerned and current situation

Current situation of mercury:
As a country with comparatively abundant mercury resources, which is mainly in Guizhou, Hubei, Sichuan, Hunan, Guangxi and Shaanxi, China has 143,800 tons of proven mercury reserve in total and 81,400 tons of available reserve in total. The available mercury reserve of Guizhou accounts for 70% of the total in China. By the end of 2008, mercury ore was found in 13 provinces (regions) of China, with total reserve base of 20,300 tons (amount of mercury metal) and identified reserve of 79,400 tons, among which, Guizhou had a reserve base of 11,200 tons and an identified reserve of 30,500 tons; Shaanxi had a reserve base of 4,300 tons and an identified reserve of 13,600 tons. The reserve base and identified reserve of the two provinces respectively accounted for 76% and 56% of the whole country.
At present, the mercury industry of China is going through an adjustment period of industry layout and product structure. The exploitation of new mercury mine and the expansion of existing mercury mine are not expressly prohibited in China, but it is predictable that enterprises with insufficient resource, heavy pollution, poor economic performance, undiversified product structure and low quality will be eliminated soon.
Mercury-concerning industries
Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. It is widely used in China. For example, smelting, instrument manufacturing, electric appliance and machine manufacturing, electricity, chemical engineering, medicine, pigment, agriculture and military industry used or is still using mercury.
Intentional use of mercury
1. PVC industry
At present, among all the major mercury-using production processes in China, PVC production by acetylene method uses the biggest amount of mercury, which accounts for 60% of total mercury amount used in China; and in the acetylene-using PVC monomer production industry around the world, the major production lines are all in China.
2. Battery industry
Mercury and mercuric chloride (HgCl2) is the raw material of mercury-containing battery. The mercury emission caused by mercury-containing battery should not be neglected. Take the year 2008 as an example. Based on battery output in 2007 and emission coefficient used by pollution source survey, the battery association calculated the mercury emission of battery industry in 2008 in China. In 2008, the mercury-containing battery in China used 140.56 tons of mercury. The products contained 140.17 tons of mercury and 390.138 kg was emitted, among which, 15.79 kg was emitted to the air, 270.119 kg to water and 104.229 kg in the waste. With the increase of output of alkaline zinc-manganese battery, the output of ordinary zinc-manganese battery reduces slightly. As for mercuric oxide battery, since it was on the prohibition list of production, selling and export, the export of such battery was reduced to almost 0 by the end of 2008. Under the influence of international financial crisis, the output of alkaline manganese button cell decreased greatly, but the export of mercury-free button cell increased gradually to hundreds of millions.
3. Lighting Industry
In 2008, the total output of electric light products (LED lighting products excluded) in China reached 13.14 billion. The output of gas-discharge light, represented by fluorescent light, accounted for 41% of the total output, ranking the first in China. At present, more than 70% of the compact fluorescent light (commonly known as energy-efficient light) is manufactured in China. In 2008, the output of energy-efficient light in China reached 3.1 billion. According to estimates, the lighting industry in China used 78.27 tons of mercury in 2008, among which, the products contained 38.2 tons of mercury and about 40 tons of mercury was discharged to the environmental media. The service efficiency of mercury was less than 50%. Therefore, there is plenty of room for improvement in the emission reduction of mercury.
4. Medical Apparatus and Instrument Industry
In the field of medical apparatus and instrument, major mercury-containing products are mercury sphygmomanometer and mercury thermometer. At present, there are over 100 manufacturers of thermometer and sphygmomanometer in China, among which, more than 20 manufacture mercury-containing ones and the rest manufacture electronic or infrared products. Manufacturers of mercury-containing products mainly concentrate in East China, Shandong and Shaanxi, particularly in Jiangsu and Zhejiang area. According to estimates, the medical apparatus and instrument industry in China used 207.87 tons of mercury in 2008, among which, the products contained 199.71 tons of mercury and about 8.16 tons of mercury was discharged to the environmental media. The service efficiency of mercury was 96%.
Unintentional Emission of Mercury
Unintentional emission of mercury refers to mercury discharged to the atmosphere unintentionally by industries which do not use mercury in production but emit mercury in incineration process because mercury exists in the fuel and raw material as associated element. China is a big country of unintentional emission of mercury. According to preliminary estimate, in China, about 700t of mercury is released to air, representing 36% of the world total. The energy structure of China determines that the associated mercury in coal is the major source of atmospheric mercury emission.
1. Coal-burning power plant
Coal power accounts for 95% of China’s thermal power, so the development of thermal power basically reflects the development of coal power. In 2008, thermal power units of 66GW were put into production in China. During the year, 64 thermal power units with capacity of 600MW and above were put into production, with installed capacity of 40.76GW, accounting for 62.19% of the total installed capacity of thermal power unit newly put into production; 108 thermal power units with capacity of 300MW and above were put into production, with installed capacity of 54.63GW, accounting for 83.35% of the total installed capacity of thermal power unit newly put into production. At the end of 2008, thermal power plants of capacity of 69GW were under construction, and power plants of installed capacity of 603GW were running. Thermal power plants generated 2803 billion kWh of electricity and used1.319 billion tons of raw coal during the whole year.
By applying the emission factor model method based on probability distribution, Tsinghua University established the coal-burning atmospheric mercury emission inventory of different provinces in China in 2008. In 2008, the optimum estimation value of atmospheric mercury emission by coal-burning power plants in China was 71.6 tons (P50), with the confidence interval between 45.0 tons (P10) and 125.8 tons (P90). Among which, Hg0 was the major existing form of mercury emission, accounting for 64% of the total. Shandong, Henan and Jiangsu are the top three provinces where the coal-burning power plants have the most atmospheric mercury emission.
2. Non-ferrous Metal Smelting
According to the annual report of China’s non-ferrous metal industry and China statistical yearbook, in 2005, 13 major copper smelteries in China produced 2096.7 kt of copper, accounting for 80.64% of the total output of China. In 2008, there were 8200 non-ferrous metal smelteries in China. In 2007, the non-ferrous metal industry in China consumed 26.34 million tons of coal in total.
Lead and zinc production is the major source of atmospheric mercury emission in non-ferrous production. By 2006, the identified reserve of lead ore in China was 41.41 million tons, among which there were 13.51 million tons of reserve base, ranking the second in the world; the identified reserve of zinc ore  was 97.11 million tons, among which there were 42.27 million tons of reserve base, ranking the first in the world. The lead and zinc smelting will inevitably be accompanied by the production and emission of mercury. The overall situation of atmospheric mercury emission in non-ferrous metal production could be roughly evaluated based on the output of lead and zinc.
According to mercury emission factor and the output of lead and zinc in China in 2007, Tsinghua University estimated the atmospheric mercury emission of the smelting of non-ferrous metal lead and zinc in 2007. In 2007, about 121.67 tons of atmospheric mercury were released by lead smelting in China, 277.68 tons by zinc smelting and 33.59 tons by copper smelting, adding up to about 433 tons in total.
3. Cement Production
In 2008, there were 4881 cement factories (with production license) in China, which produced 1.4 billion tons of cement in a year, accounting for nearly half of the world total output. In 2009, the cement output was 1.65 billion tons. The cement industry also uses coal as the major fuel, which accounts for over 80% of the energy consumed in cement production. In 2008, the industry consumed 150 million tons of coal and the number reached 180 million tons in 2009. Besides, in 2009, the cement industry also used 2 billion tons of raw materials like limestone.
With coal as the major fuel, mercury emission caused by coal-burning takes up a relatively big proportion in cement production. In 2007, 54.45 tons of mercury were released during cement production. The major reason is that China’s large and quickly growing output of cement not only consumes large amount of coal, but also consumes enormous amount of mineral raw materials.
4. Waste Incineration
The national general survey of dangerous waste disposal facility shows that by the end of 2005, China had put 87 dangerous waste disposal facilities into operation, among which, 14 were put into operation before 1999, 16 were put into operation between 1999-2001 and 57 were put into operation between 2002-2005. These facilities mainly concentrated in the eastern part of China, accounting for 78% of the total; among which, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Guangdong were the top three provinces where there are 22, 14 and 8 facilities respectively, adding up to 51% of the total in China; facilities in the middle and western part of China accounted for 15% and 7% of the total respectively. During the survey period, there were 8 incineration facilities under construction, which were all in the eastern part of China. The investigation statistics of dangerous waste business license shows that, in 2008, 237,000 tons of dangerous waste were incinerated, accounting for 19.5% of the total volume of dangerous waste disposal (medical waste excluded) in China. Compared with the US, European countries and other developed countries, the waste incineration capacity of China is relatively weak and the proportion of mercury emission is relatively low. However, with more and more waste incineration facilities built and incineration disposal capacity improved, it is estimated that the emission of mercury will gradually increase in the future

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