By Lauly Li / Staff reporter
Government plans to cut annual cement production to 15 percent of the current rate by 2025 are to be accelerated by reducing cement exports in an effort to reduce mining of natural resources and protect the environment, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday.
“We previously aimed to reduce the figure to 20 percent by 2025, but now we want to put in more effort and be more aggressive in national land conservation,” Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fu （楊偉甫） told a news conference.
Taiwan produced 12.13 million tonnes of cement last year, of which exports accounted for 26.63 percent, or 3.23 million tonnes, ministry data showed.
The economy would be affected if the nation does not have a cement industry, because it is fundamental to infrastructure development, Yang said.
However, mining natural resources for export can be adjusted as a way to protect the environment, he said.
“The government is trying to find a balance between mining and environmental protection,” Yang said.
The government’s latest effort to decrease mining comes in the wake of the death of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Chi Po-lin （齊柏林）, whose aerial footage seemed to show that Asia Cement Corp’s （亞泥） mining activity in eastern Taiwan is more expansive than five years ago.
Chi’s findings sparked a public outcry in the past two weeks with environmental groups demanding that the government withdraw its approval of Asia Cement’s 20-year mining rights extension in eastern Taiwan.
Yang said the ministry reviewed the extension approval process in the past week at the Executive Yuan’s request, and it is certain that the decision was made in accordance with the Mining Act （礦業法）.
The Cabinet on Thursday last week decided that an amendment to the Mining Act would require cement makers, including those that have been granted extension approvals, to carry out environmental impact assessments.
Yang said that Asia Cement has agreed to cooperate with the government.
An amendment to the act would also require miners of areas larger than 1 hectare to conduct environmental evaluations, Yang said, adding that more than 120 mining areas would have to abide by the regulations if they come into effect.