Mar. 23, 2023

Decade River Project 2010 (9)Jinsha Lake and Yalong Lake Meeting in Panzhihua

Decade River Project 2010 (9)Jinsha Lake and Yalong Lake Meeting in Panzhihua

Reported by: Wang Yongchen

We arrived at Panzhihua at four o'clock on December 2nd, 2010. It had been a long day. Eating the delicious food cooked by Xiao Liangzhong's mother in her home gave us a taste of the harmony existing between people and nature along the Jinsha Lake. Two farmers we met near a turn in the Changjiang River said that urban citizens lived their life according to money, while rural dwellers enjoyed nature in great harmony. Their words made me think about whether we could live without money, and the difference between our life and the farmers' lives. We continued our discussions while enjoying the air along the Jinsha Lake, thus delaying our schedule.


One Glimpse of the Jinsha Lake


Travelling along the Lake


On the Lake

As we had visited this area before, we all agreed that the air and water pollution had become much more serious. Protection measures had been established in the past few years, and more banners were hanging around, but we could hardly bear the dust and the smell in the air.

"Environment Protection is the Lifeline of an enterprise" Shown on the Sign

The sky in Panzhihua

The Bombax flower is the symbol of Panzhihua. It is also the symbol for Guangzhou in Guangdong, and Gaoxiong in Taiwan. Panzhihua City is the only city in China that is named after a flower.


The Bombax Tree has a straight body with flat branches and an umbel top: a beautiful sight. In the spring, flowers blossom before sprouting leaves. The big gorgeous flowers burn with red petals and yellow stamen. Looking from a distance, the whole tree-crown is made of red flowers. The green leaves are also amazing. Because of its striking appearance, it works great in gardens, yards and on the streets. It can also be   transplanted as a potted plant.

As the biggest city in Sichuan’s Panxi region, and the richest in southern Sichuan, Panzhihua receives lots of attention from the government. It is an industrial city, a city of immigrants and a mountain city. As such, it won the award of China's Top Tourism City in 2005, the National Hygiene City in 2008 and China's Capital of Vanadium and Titanium.

Level One Park of Sichuan


Along the Mountain

I wrote about this fire at the Yellow Phosphorous Factory when we arrived here two years ago.


The Yellow Phosphorus Factory in 2006



In 2007, activity at the factory was suspended due to a leak. Because of the leak, white waste material came down from the mountain into the lake and the soil. The factory has been closed for three years, but the "white" is still there.


 The new Yellow Phosphorus Factory, built in 2008 


The inspection for the National Hygiene Competition

In 2007 we followed one of the drains


The river at the time “Whole country hygiene evaluation” in 2008


In 2009, people said that in the evening the smell and sound of the water was different than in the morning.


The water was clearer in 2009


The polluted waters of Jinsha Lake in 2009


Panzhihua is a young city, and it has the typical characteristics of a city under development. It is an important source of steel, vanadium and titanium. It won the honors of National Double Support Model Cities, China's Top Tourism Cities, National Comprehensive Security Administration City, Chinese Capital of Vanadium and Titanium, Chinese Township of Terfez and Chinese Township of Qiequeyan. It was also elected as one of the district's Ten National Vigorous Cities in 2008, one of the Twenty Chinese Small and Medium-sized Cities with the Best Investment Potential of 2008, and also one of the Top 50 Informational Cities.   When the World Wildlife Fund chose five cities in China as a demonstration projects for exploring low carbon development, Panzhihua was chosen as Biodiesel Development City.  This made  it the fourth national intellectual property experimental city in Sichuan after Chengdu, Deyang and Mianyang. The Ministry of Communications named Panzhihua as one of the 196 national highway transportation hubs. Sichuan Province named it as one of the 12 regional second-level hubs and one of the eight sub-regional logistics centers. According to the Chinese Cities Competitiveness Report of 2011 compiled by the Chinese Academy of Social Science, the comprehensive competitiveness of Panzhihua ranks third in Sichuan, after Chengdu and Mianyang. It has kept this position for five years.

It is amazing to have such rapid development in only 40 years. However, judging by the choking smell we feel every time we visit, we can't avoid doubting those titles. In writing this, we hoped that we could record people's feelings about the city.


Chemical Group


Taking part in a live program with Beijing People's Broadcasting Station


The World Health Organization listed Changchun, Chengdu and Panzhihua as the second experimental program of healthy cities - National Hygiene Cities.

Yellow Stones in the Lake, Dusty Clouds in the Sky


 This was the first time journalists and experts from the program Decade River Project breathed the air of Panzhihua, and observed the color of the stones in the confluence of the Jinsha and Yalong Lakes. While we have concerns about this new and developing city, we also need to understand its past.


The bus that had brought us here from Yunnan broke down and we had to find a new bus in Panzhihua. However, it was a good chance for us to learn more about the history of Panzhihua.

Walking on the lake's shore

Fishing along the Lake

Green Panzhihua

Archaeologists discovered that the trail of human activities in Panzhihua dates back to very early times. Apart from the heritage of "Yuanmou Man" and "Hudie Man", a site with 12,000 to 18,000 years of pre-historical human activity has also been recently discovered.

The Panxi Rift region was one of the earliest locations where human activities appeared. It was the hub where primitive men moved from south to north, or from west to east. The first human activities recorded and included in the book of classics were those of the oldest son of the Yellow Emperor. Changyi was born in Ruoshui and gave birth to Zhuanxu. Ancient Mao people, Wei people and Pu people lived in this area, participating in the crusade against King Zhou of Shang by King Wu of Zhou.

It is hard to tell the origin of the numerous cities today. Most of them have evolved from ancient villages. Thanks to the arduous work of geographic scientists in the modern world, we know the origin of Panzhihua which makes this "Steel City" different from the others in the area.

Some people believe that a French man named M.A.Legelete discovered Panzhihua in 1899. But after reading through all the foreign material, the honorary president of the geographic academy, Huang Jiqing, found this to be untrue. Most people now think that the city was discovered by a famous Chinese geologist Chang Longqing. However, there is no consensus about when the city was discovered; dates vary between 1932, 1934, 1935 1936 and 1940.

Although Panzhihua is not included in our list, we would like to look back to the past of Panzhihua, and try to find the development pattern for environmental protection. This way we can try to predict future development. 

1.Professor Chang Longqing graduated from the Department of Geology at Beijing University in 1930. He worked at the Beijing Geographic Research center for two years. He was then recommended by the president of the Beijing Geological Survey, Weng Wenhao, and became the director of the Geological Institute of the Western China Academy of Sciences in Chongqing. According to his biography, he went to the western Sichuan area to do some geological research in the winter of 1932 but did not go to southern Sichuan at that time.

 2.Professor Chang visited the Panxi area six times between 1934 and 1940. According to the map he drew and the book he wrote (Survey of Eping, Leima, Sichuan), the furthest place he reached was Leibo in Liangshanzhou. He did not travel to Xichang or Panzhihua.

3.In the spring of 1935, Mr. Chang went to Wanxian and Suiding to investigate petroleum resources. He then visited Nanjing and Suzhou in the summer. Later in autumn of the same year, accompanied by Li Xiancheng, he went to Qijiang to map the iron mine geology of the area in preparation for the establishment of the Chongqing Steel Works. He did not start his journey to the southwest of Sichuan until the end of 1935.

4.In 1936 Prof. Chang accomplished the most in the Panxi area. However, controversy remains over whether 1936 is the exact year Panzhihua was discovered. Mr. Chang wrote: "I stayed in Qijiang for only one month. When an earthquake happened in Huili, in the southwest of Sichuan, and a turnoff occurred in Jinsha Lake, I was asked to explore the reason. Therefore, I handed over my work to Li Xiancheng and left for Xichang with my assistant Yin Xuezhong. It was almost the end of the year. Because of the difficult access, we had to walk there we needed to draw a map and collect some samples. We arrived at Xichang in February or March of 1935. We went to Huili to see the location of the Jinsha Lake turnoff caused by the earthquake. We saw nothing but mountains. After arriving at Huili, we found the earth there was suitable for metal forming, so we put a great deal of effort into mineral exploration. Many mines were found and exploited for a while, but some had not been studied yet, so we did some work on that... ...."

"We visited seven counties in Xichang and saw a lot of mines of different sizes. This is an area with lots of mines in Sichuan, so I wrote about some ore-forming conditions in my report, along with some notes about the geological conditions. I wrote a report of several thousand words and named it Geology and Mineral Resources of seven counties in Ningshu. Not only were Panzhihua Iron Mines included in the book, but also some other rather huge mineral resources.

 There was a mimeograph book named General Situation of Chinese Western Science Institute. The book mentioned 13 field surveys, and introduced the work of the Geological Institute. We spent six months investigating the mineral resources of Xichang, Yuejuan, Mianning, Yanyuan, Yanbian, Huili and Ningnan and we visited over 50 mines….”

Mr. Chang thought it would be good if a railroad which started in Chengdu, passed through Xichang, and ended in Kunming could be built here. The Anning River Basin was the area with the most mines within the other southwest provinces.


Sculpture of Chang Longqing on the Panzhihua Midi Bridge

The government of Panzhihua built a statue in memory of Chang Longqing, and named a road after him.


Memorial Day
On November 1st, 1964, Vice Primier Li Fuchun and Bo Yibo visited Panzhihua. They held a meeting to solve issues with the Panzhihua Iron and Steel base construction system, state planning, decentralized design approvals, supply of living necessities, and other important issues.. About 20 people came to Panzhihua with them, including officials from the central and provincial government. On November 5th, the two high officials wrote to Mao Zedong to confirm that Nongping area was ideal for building their strategic base.

On January 18th, Zhou Enlai instructed: "Set up a SAR government in Panzhihua like the one in Daqing. Unite the government and enterprises. Establish a Party Committee which is ruled by the Metallurgical Department and secondarily controlled by Sichuan Province  to give it dual leadership”.

On February 23rd, 1965, the Chief Minister of the Metallurgical Department Lu Dong, together with the Vice Minister Xu chi proposed their idea of moving ahead with the construction of Integrated Steel Works. Their signed report was then presented to the Chinese Prime Minister. On March 4th, Mao Zedong commented: “It is a good proposal”. Since then, the day has been remembered as Panzhihua’s City Memorial Day.

Our project of “River Journey for Ten Years” has consistently paid attention to the pollution situation in Panzhihua. While preparing for an on-air program in Beijing People's Broadcasting Station, I did some internet research for some  relevant reports. I could not find any results when I searched on  "pollution in Panzhihua."


In recent years, there have been many reports about pollution in Panzhihua, but they cannot be found on the Internet. However, there is some information about the high-energy enterprises in the area.

2007-2010 Projects Enter Garden

Attracted by a good supply of electricity and favorable price policies, many high-energy programs were initiated after the establishment of Ertan Hydropower Station. There are projects already under construction, and others that are due to start in coming years.
Multi-ferroalloy Project: Henan Xichuan Metallurgy Plant is behind this investment. With an annual production of 33 thousand tons, the program cost 26 million Yuan for construction, and earns annual revenue of 330 million Yuan. It needs 400 million kWh of power each year to function. The program officially started on June 18th, 2010.
Aluminum Project: Guangdong Mingzhu International Corporation invested 1,040 million Yuan on the project. It will earn them 1,560 million Yuan every year, with an annual production of 100 thousand tons. It uses 1,530 million kWh of power every year. It is the biggest nonferrous metals project invested in by a company based in a province outside Sichuan.

Ionic Membrane Caustic Soda Project and PVC Project: Sichuan Chuantou Electrometallurgy Company has invested 660 million Yuan on these two projects. Forty thousand tons of ionic membrane caustic sodas, and 40 thousand tons of PVC are produced every year. The annual sales revenue is 660 million Yuan, and the annual consumption is 150 million kWh. The feasibility study has been finished, and the project is awaiting approval and design.
High Titanium Slag Project and Low-carbon Ferrochromium Project. These two projects were started with an investment of about 530 million Yuan by the Pangang Group Company. Every year they produce 180 thousand tons of high titanium slag, and 10 thousand tons of low-carbon ferrochromium.  The annual sales revenue is 620 million Yuan. 540 million kWh are used in a year. The high titanium project is yet to be approved, while the low-carbon ferrochromium project began construction in September 2001.
For all these projects, the total investment is 2400 million Yuan, the sales revenue is 3200 million Yuan and the annual electricity consumption is 2800 kWh.


Panzhihua High


-energy Development Zone 

All of Panzhihua’s Enterprises


The Sewage Outfall we followed for three years

I asked an old man who lived next to the sewage outfall whether the water was better than before. He told me it was much better. One can smell a choking odor when walking towards it. Yet, although there is an occasional yellow discharge, the water was clean for most of the time.

We noticed that environmental protection is making progress here, albeit slowly. People in Panzhihua earn honors because of their arduous work. We will always keep an eye on these issues, and we hope more people will be concerned about the situation, especially decision makers.
We did not have the chance to visit Luo Xingquan this year, as we try to do every year.
We called him after we got back, and he said he had just been in Chengdu, where he worked on raising people's concern about the waste of the deserted yellow phosphorous plant which may cause pollution to the water and soil. He hopes that the relevant department will be able to solve the problem as soon as possible.    

Luo Yongquan is an old retired man. He has always worked on environmental improvement in Panzhihua. There is hope. Our journey is just a way to record what is happening. The best we can do is to have some influence on people. The local people’s demands for their environment and for their life are really the sign of hope for the whole city.


Seeing the lake from a high spot

Tomorrow we are going to Hanyuan, the country of pepper. It sank into the lake because of the recent dam construction. When we went there last year, the new county was still under construction. We could not find the family we had visited before. Their old house was dismantled and the new one was not ready last year. We wanted to find out where they lived now.


Translator: Feng Yan
Proofreader: Rebacca Valli/Karen Marshall








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