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Benxi Bids Farewell to 96-year-old Furnace

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The newly-built Benxi Steel furnace pours out hot steel on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008.

Benxi, an industrial city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, waved goodbye to a 96-year-old blast furnace on Wednesday, December 17, 2008.

The pull-down of the furnace is part of the city's latest moves to help cut energy consumption and emissions at this heavy industrial base in the northeast.

The furnace was built back in 1912 and is one of China's oldest furnaces still in use. Its owner, the Benxi Iron and Steel Group, which was set up in 1905, is also one of the oldest steel manufacturers in China.

Over the past one hundred years, Benxi Steel has made a great contribution to the steel-making industry in China and its development is tightly connected with the history of the country.

Apart from the deconstruction of the blast furnace, Benxi Steel will further phase out some other outdated equipment on Wednesday as a combined move to lessen the impact of pollution on the environment.

Although some senior workers might feel nostalgic when casting a last look at the old furnace, most employees remain confident and optimistic about the future.

The executives of Benxi Steel have promised not to reduce staff or their salaries and not to cease production, despite the global financial crisis.

Meanwhile in October this year, Benxi Steel put its newest energy-conserving and low-emission blast furnace into use when most steel giants were struggling to survive these harsh economic times.

The furnace is currently one of the four existing new steel-making monsters in China and is the largest in the northeastern region.

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