Steel Cities in China's Hebei Province
© Lu Guang / Greenpeace

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China plans 1.8 million coal and steel lay-offs

The Chinese government intends to cut almost two million jobs in the country’s coal and steel sectors, as part of a bid to cut overcapacity and get the slowing economy moving again.

Human resources minister, Yin Weimin, told an audience at a press conference yesterday that 1.3 million workers would be fired in the coal industry, along with half-a-million in steel – with the majority losing their jobs in state-owned companies.

The move comes after historic reductions in carbon emissions in the country last year, with coal use falling in the country for the second year running. The AFP reports that coal consumption in China fell 3.7% in 2015, up from 2.9% in 2014.

The Financial Times reports that the move could have major political consequences, with the threat of mass unemployment and subsequent unrest posing a problem for the Chinese state.

The 1.8 million newly unemployed will be forced to compete for work with the 15 million people entering the Chinese workforce every year.

For its part, the Communist government insists that it will put in place measures to help the workers, including a $15bn fund to help resettle them.

Violence in Niger Delta sparks fears in oil industry

The oil rich region of southern Nigeria is witnessing its most sustained period of violence since an amnesty agreement was signed with insurgents in 2009, with oil industry figures, government officials and security experts becoming increasingly concerned.

The Financial Times reports that experts on the region have become concerned by the spate of sophisticated attacks on oil refineries and pipelines in the region in recent weeks, which they say are the most serious in ten years, both in terms of scale and due to the technical ability demonstrated by the attackers.

Facilities operated by Shell and Italian company Eni were attacked last month, with Nigerian authorities blaming insurgent leader and former oil man TomPolo for the attacks. The true identity of the attackers is not yet known.

The Delta has long been beset by violence and environmental damage caused by frequent oil spills. Last week, Energydesk reported that Eni averaged four oil spills a week in the region, with the majority of spills put down to sabotage by the company’s investigators.

With the Nigerian government already locked in a battle with Boko Haram in the north of the country, the news of violence in the Delta will come as a blow.

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