With a crippling combination of excessive air pollution and industrial over-capacity, China is slowly beginning to move away from the steel mill.
The state government announced last year that it would reduce the country's iron and steel production by a third by 2017. Half of that reduction will take place in the industrial city of Tangshan, located in the northeastern province of Heibei. Many plants have already closed around the city, leading provincial government officials to finally demolish their remains as part of a plan they call "Operation Sunday."
The closings and demolitions have been bittersweet for locals. The loss also means a loss of jobs. And while pollution is beginning to clear up, these facilities remain an environmental burden even after they shut down for good. The soil beneath them is toxic and water supplies are still suspect.
According to a report in the Chinese publication, Global Times, many of the plants were built on land rented from farmers. But it will be nearly impossible to return the land to its former use. As one man who wants to expand his flock of sheep into previously industrial property next door tells Global Times, "I think it will take many, many years."
The seemingly inevitable shift away from factory life as China's dominant industry has only begun. Heavy industry has long been a defining part of the country's changing landscape, creating new jobs for many while compromising their health and Heibei and other northern provinces will notice the shift more than others. Below, a look in and around China's many steel plants: