One of the Chinese factories that’s been hardest hit by the coronavirus appears to be returning to activity, signaling that China’s government is allowing people to return to work there, The Post has learned.
Located about 20 miles outside of Wuhan — the epicenter of the deadly virus — the Daye Hubei copper plant where more than 1,000 employees had been quarantined since late January is no longer dormant, according to RS Metrics.
The research firm uses satellites to track activity at 500 factories worldwide, including 200 in China that produce metals including steel, aluminum and copper, supplying raw materials for everything from kitchen appliances to cars and home construction.
RS Metrics measures factory output as well as employee cars and other signals that monitor productivity.
In the case of the Daye Hubei plant, “We can see the actual copper again outside,” RS Metrics founder Tom Diamond said.
Only one or two metals factories in China shut down in the aftermath of the outbreak, according to Diamond, whose customers are large hedge funds and companies who have been scrambling to obtain independent data about the outbreak.
“It’s certainly interesting that the Chinese authorities feel comfortable enough to have employees go back to work at this plant that is next to the epicenter of the virus,” Diamond said.
In the wake of the outbreak, the Chinese government shut down all forms of transportation, including trains and buses that employees use to get to work. But there were reports last week that the government ordered idled factories to resume production.
The Daye Hubei employees were unable to come to work because they were quarantined, not because of transportation issues, according to RS Metrics.
The fact that Daye Hubei has activity again is telling, Diamond maintains, because it requires the regular transport of trucks that have to haul away the sulfuric acid these plants produce.
“Copper and aluminum are among the most polluting factories and require the regular removal of waste,” Diamond said.
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