Coordinates: 26°34′57″N 101°43′06″E / 26.5824°N 101.7184°E / 26.5824; 101.7184
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Location of Panzhihua in Sichuan
Location of Panzhihua in Sichuan
Coordinates (Panzhihua municipal government): 26°34′57″N 101°43′06″E / 26.5824°N 101.7184°E / 26.5824; 101.7184
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Municipal seatDong District
 • Prefecture-level city7,423.42 km2 (2,866.20 sq mi)
 • Urban
2,010.7 km2 (776.3 sq mi)
 • Metro
2,010.7 km2 (776.3 sq mi)
1,157 m (3,796 ft)
 (2020 census)[1]
 • Prefecture-level city1,212,203
 • Density160/km2 (420/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density400/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density400/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
Postal code
Area code0812
ISO 3166 codeCN-SC-04

Panzhihua (Chinese: 攀枝花; pinyin: Pānzhīhuā), formerly Dukou (渡口), is a prefecture-level city located in the far south of Sichuan province, People's Republic of China, at the confluence of the Jinsha and Yalong Rivers. It has an administrative area of 74,423.42 square kilometres (28,735.04 sq mi),[2] and a population at the 2020 census of 1,212,203. 806,395 lived in the built-up (or metro) area made of 3 urban districts.

Its economy relies almost entirely on its giant mine, one of the country's largest. The economy in Panzhihua is mainly centered on natural resource development and heavy-industry. The city grew into a major city for steel production during the Third Front construction.[3]: 184  The urban center was built on top of mountainous terrains. In 2005, Panzhihua won the "China Excellent Tourist City" title, in 2008 it won the "National Health City" and the "China Vanadium, Titanium" titles.


The construction of Panzhihua occurred during China's Third Front construction, a Mao Zedong-era campaign to develop basic and national defense industry in China's rugged interior in the event of foreign invasion.[4]: 4, 145  Mao viewed the building of the city as so important that he repeatedly told other party leadership that until it was built he would "not sleep well a single day."[4]: 165  Speaking figuratively, he routinely emphasized the importance of developing Panzhihua by stating that if party leaders would not develop the city, he would "ride a donkey and hold a meeting" to build it himself.[4]: 165 

Southwest Third Front Commission Vice Director Cheng Zihua was among the first to investigate the Panzhihua site, traveling there in mid-1964 when only eight households lived in Panzhihua.[4]: 170  In his memoirs, Cheng highlights Panzhihua's suitability for a strategic industrial rear because its "lofty mountains and steep hills" would make it difficult for enemy infantry to access or for enemy airplanes to bomb.[4]: 170 

Meeting with Panzhihua leaders in October 1964, Bo Yibo emphasized that while it was critical to increase production in the area, doing so had to avoid the mistakes of the Great Leap Forward, a time when the emphasis on industrial production resulted in many people lacking "grain to eat."[4]: 165 

In an effort to avoid what Chinese policymakers viewed as a mistake of Soviet-style industrialization, the builders of Panzhihua were tasked with constructing in an austere style consistent with the success of the Daqing oil field -- service areas, multistory buildings, and cultural areas should be avoided in order to ensure maximum resources for heavy industry.[4]: 166  Consistent with this mandate, Director of the Planning Commission Li Fuchun directed that at Panzhihua, workers should "dig a hole for a toilet" and only canvas tents should be necessary for housing.[4]: 166  According to academic Hou Li, the resulting style of construction is best characterized as "industrialization without urbanization."[4]: 166 

Panzhihua Steel was built during the Third Front campaign.[4]: 9  Because planners chose locations based on military defense considerations, Panzhihua Steel was built on the side of a mountain, unlike most steel factories which are built on flat land.[4]: 187  To ensure that the facility had the level foundation necessary for steel production, workers built the factory on massive steps carved out of the slope.[4]: 187  Instead of the internal track system common to steel factories, technicians used a cable system to connect different parts of the facility to better adapt to the local terrain.[4]: 187 

Consistent with the Third Front construction's emphasis on secrecy due to national security concerns, the completion of the Panzhihua facility was not promoted at the time.[4]: 187  Today, the city government of Panzhihua promotes it as a model of Chinese technological ingenuity.[4]: 187 

Panzhihua city government built a hospital in 1965 to provide health care for Third Front workers and their families, with Panzhihua Steel itself also establishing a hospital in 1970.[4]: 189–190  In 1966, two power stations were built in Panzhihua as was a water processing plant.[4]: 178  Due to Panzhihua's focus on industrialization, factories and mines had priority access to these utilities, with general access to filtered water and power coming over time.[4]: 178–179 

During the period of the Third Front campaign, almost every work unit in Panzhihua was a state-owned enterprise.[4]: 189  The social services provided by these units meant that Panzhihua residents generally had a much greater welfare net than rural residents generally.[4]: 189 

In recent years, Panzhihua has experienced major population outflows.[3] As a result, its government now offers subsidies to those who move to Panzhihua and have two or three children.[5]

Geography and climate[edit]

The area has a monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cwa), with short, mild, dry winters and long, hot, and humid summers. Highs drop to 21 °C (70 °F) in December and January, quickly rebounding during the dry springs, and peak in May and June, unlike much of the rest of the province. Much of the annual rainfall occurs from June to September.

Climate data for Panzhihua (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1971–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.2
Average high °C (°F) 21.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 13.6
Average low °C (°F) 7.2
Record low °C (°F) 1.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 6.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 1.8 1.5 2.4 3.9 8.6 13.9 18.2 15.3 13.0 8.4 3.0 1.1 91.1
Average relative humidity (%) 51 39 33 36 46 60 72 72 74 71 67 62 57
Mean monthly sunshine hours 237.9 247.0 280.3 279.0 263.6 210.6 183.7 194.1 164.3 198.7 213.3 217.5 2,690
Percent possible sunshine 72 77 75 72 63 51 44 48 45 56 66 67 61
Source 1: China Meteorological Administration[6][7]
Source 2: Weather China[8]


Panzhihua lies in the Yangtze River basin, holding more than 95 waterways. They feed the Jinsha and Yandalong Rivers, which in turn feed the Yangtze. Annual runoff volume is 110.2 billion cubic meters. The potential hydropower capacity is 700 million kilowatts. The installed capacity is 3.474 million kilowatts.


Panzhihua is close to the Xigeda-Yuanmou fracture in the Sichuan-Yunnan border.[9] Its Renhe District was the epicenter of the 2008 Panzhihua earthquake.


Bronze Age cultural remains are representative of various types of bronze artifacts. Under the jurisdiction of Panzhihua City in Yanbian, Miyi and Renhe District, archeologists have collected nearly 20 bronze artifacts. Most of the dig sites were tomb sites excavated specifically for funerary objects. Practical objects were found that can be divided into three categories. Weapons such as bronze swords, bronze spears, and bronze Ge, tools such as copper axes, copper knives and copper hoes, and decorative objects like copper bracelets were found.

The objects were similar to those of western Yunnan province, reflecting ethnic group similarities. The relics date from the Warring States ~ Western Han period.

Tourism resources[edit]

The landscape is dominated by natural areas. Attractions include a red cell spa, the Cave Stone Forest, the Jinsha River and Hai lake.

Cycas forest[edit]

Cycas first appeared some 280 million years ago in the Permian period. They consist of some 110 species. In 1971, Sichuan Agricultural Science and the original forest vegetation Panzhihua aerial survey, found more than 100,000 specimens. It is the highest altitude Cycas forest, hosting the largest number and size of specimens. This forest consists of an endemic species, Cycas panzhihuaensis.

Ertan Hydropower Station[edit]

The Ertan Dam (simplified Chinese: 二滩大坝; traditional Chinese: 二灘大壩; pinyin: Èrtān Dàbà) is an arch dam on the Yalong River, a tributary of the Yangtze River in Sichuan.

The dam has six hydroelectric generators, each with a generating capacity of 550 MW. The total generating capacity of the facility is 3,300 MW, one of the largest in China. Annual production averages 17 TWh, and through December 5, 2006, it produced over 100 TWh of electricity. Construction of the dam started on September 1991 and was completed on December 26, 1999.[10][11] A total of 12,638,000 m3 (446,306,758 cu ft) of material was excavated during construction.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Population (2004 est.) Area (km²) Density (/km²)
Dong District 东区 Dōngqū 320,000 167 1,916
Xi District 西区 Xīqū 160,000 124 1,290
Renhe District 仁和区 Rénhé Qū 200,000 1,727 116
Miyi County 米易县 Mǐyì Xiàn 200,000 2,153 93
Yanbian County 盐边县 Yánbiān Xiàn 200,000 3,269 61


Panzhihua is a highly industrialized area dominated by gigantic mining operations. Most of the land not in use for mining is taken up by subsistence farming.

Mineral Resources[edit]

Panzhihua has abundant natural resources, but remained undeveloped until 1960. It was founded on a remote headwater of the Yangtze River in 1966 as a steel production center. It grew rapidly as it remained relatively prosperous while the rest of the country suffered under the Cultural Revolution. The city is home to the Panzhihua Iron and Steel (Group) Co, called "Pangang 攀钢", the leading steel company in southwest China.

Proven iron ore (mainly vanadium-titanium magnetite) reserves are 73.8 million tons, 72.3% of the provincial total. At the end of 2007, the city's reserves of vanadium-titanium magnetite were 6.694 billion tons, of which: titanium reserves were 425 million tons, 93% of the national total, the world's largest; vanadium reserves were 10.38 million tons, 63% in the nation, third in the world. Cobalt reserves were 746 million tons. Other minerals were chromium, gallium, scandium, nickel, copper, lead, zinc, manganese, platinum and other rare metals.

Other minerals
Mineral Reserves (million tons)
Cobalt 746
Coal 708
Crystalline graphite 15.4
Ju Yan 20.98
Limestone 295
Metallurgical dolomite 363
Cement sand retention 11.94
Refactory clay 10.32
Diatomite 16.5
Granite 87.5 m3
Marble 53.99 m3


Panzhihua is served by the Chengdu–Kunming Railway and the Panzhihua Bao'anying Airport. The city has over 10 bridges over the Jinsha River.


  • Panzhihua University
  • The city's top high schools are the No.3 Panzhihua high school (located downtown) and the no.7 high school (located in the western district (Qingxiangping))


  1. ^ "China: Sìchuān (Prefectures, Cities, Districts and Counties) - Population Statistics, Charts and Map".
  2. ^ "Nature Resources of Panzhihua" (in Chinese (China)). Panzhihua People's Government. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  3. ^ a b Marquis, Christopher; Qiao, Kunyuan (2022). Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise. New Haven: Yale University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv3006z6k. ISBN 978-0-300-26883-6. JSTOR j.ctv3006z6k. OCLC 1348572572. S2CID 253067190.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Meyskens, Covell F. (2020). Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108784788. ISBN 978-1-108-78478-8. OCLC 1145096137. S2CID 218936313.
  5. ^ Marquis, Christopher; Qiao, Kunyuan (2022). Mao and Markets: The Communist Roots of Chinese Enterprise. New Haven London: Yale University Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-300-26338-1.
  6. ^ 中国气象数据网 – WeatherBk Data (in Simplified Chinese). China Meteorological Administration. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  7. ^ 中国气象数据网 (in Simplified Chinese). China Meteorological Administration. Retrieved 14 April 2023.
  8. ^ 攀枝花 - 气象数据 -中国天气网 (in Chinese). Weather China. Retrieved 9 November 2022.
  9. ^ 四川攀枝花市仁和区-凉山州会理县交界6.1级地震现场应急工作系列报道之三地震构造背景) [Part III of emergency response to the M6.1 earthquake at the border of Renhe-Huili, Sichuan: Seismic formation background] (in Simplified Chinese). China Earthquake Administration / CEA. 2008-09-02. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
  10. ^ "Ertan Hydropower Plant, Yalong River". Power Technology.
  11. ^ 1999年12月26日 我国西部的最大水电站二滩水电站全面建成投产. 2003-08-01. Retrieved 2018-11-02.

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