BEIJING, June 5 (Reuters) – Shanghai lead prices jumped nearly 4 percent on Tuesday to their highest in 18 months after the government in China’s northern province of Hebei announced environmental inspections on the acid industry. The most-traded lead contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, for July delivery, was up 3.6 percent at 20,610 yuan ($3,215.39) a tonne by the mid-session interval after earlier climbing to 20,670 yuan, its highest since Nov. 29, 2016. The government in Hebei, a hub for lead-acid battery recycling, said it would “inspect and rectify” acid-related enterprises from June 18. The move is the latest effort to crack down on hazardous waste in China as part of a sweeping environmental protection campaign. A notice on the Hebei government’s website said the action was targeting all industrial enterprises in the province that use, purchase, produce, store or distribute industrial acid. Such companies will be required to install ‘smart’ monitoring systems and report their hazarous waste data to the provincial environmental protection bureau by the 10th day of each month, starting from Aug. 10, according to the notice. Those that do not comply will not be granted permits to discharge pollutants, it added. “The discovery of any illegal disposal of hazardous waste will be recorded and filed for investigation,” the notice said, adding that companies identified as having “hidden dangers” must stop production while rectifications are carried out. There are four licensed lead recycling plants in Hebei with a total annual processing capacity of 448,263 tonnes, according to Antaike, the research arm of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association. Shanghai lead prices have now risen nearly 18 percent since mid-April, with an earlier rally driven by fears of a supply squeeze amid a crackdown on secondary lead smelting in Anhui province, in eastern China. Antaike estimates around 800,000 tonnes of annual recycled lead capacity has been closed for modernisation in Anhui’s Taihe county. A separate notice dated May 31 from Henan province, in central China, which is home to the country’s biggest primary lead smelters, also called for a strengthening supervision of solid and hazardous waste.

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