| Global Times | 2013-10-16 23:48:01
By Chen Ximeng
Authorities in Shifang, Sichuan Province, have said they have no plans to restart construction on a controversial molybdenum and copper refinery that was "permanently suspended" following a massive protests last year.
Amid media reports indicating that the local government had launched a charm offensive to persuade the locals of the importance of the 10 billion yuan ($1.64 billion) project in the guise of collecting their opinions, Li Xianhui, a vice mayor of Shifang, did not deny a publicity campaign was taking place, but insisted that "nobody has made the [final] decision," China National Radio reported Tuesday.
The results of the survey will come out later this year, and then the government will decide whether to restart the project, a local government official who asked not to be named told the Global Times Wednesday.
"Development remains the top priority of Shifang, whether the project will be restarted or not," Li told the radio network, adding that they want to change the perception of citizens who do not support the project.
From April to July, the local government organized more than 1,000 officials and citizen representatives to inspect refinery projects in other provinces, according to local media reports.
But the local government's efforts are not yielding results, as many residents remain opposed to the refinery project, despite claims from the government that it will not cause the harm that citizens imagine.
"We support the development of the city with environmentally-friendly projects like the tourism projects, but oppose the refinery project, which has the potential to pollute the environment," one employee of a local company, who requested anonymity, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
He said that he and some of his colleagues received a one-page document sent to their company from the government in August, which asked their opinions about the campaign.
"Definitely, I chose to disagree," he said, adding that in his office of 35 staff, 33 chose to disagree.
Shifang was put under the national spotlight in July 2012, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the possible environmental and health risks that could be brought by the planned heavy metal refinery. Public anger abated after the authorities scrapped the project and promised that the project would not be resumed.
The Hongda Group, which has invested tens of millions of yuan in this project, is waiting for the final decision of the government, according to a report of the Oriental Morning Post.
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