Becoming a trusted user of air, land and water
Posted on 30.06.15 by
Air, land and water are critical resources and provide us with trillions of dollars in eco system services. If we don’t protect these precious resources, the cost will be great; without them, we have no economy, no society, and no eco-systems. But as the world’s population grows, these resources are under increasing pressure, and must be used and shared responsibly.
“By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages” – WWF
So, what does all this mean for our business?
Air, land and water are absolutely essential resources for our business. At ArcelorMittal, we need to have access to all three to continue production, because steel – like all basic materials – requires a resource-intensive process. However our local communities and stakeholders require us to use these resources responsibly with the long-term future in view.
We understand that the regulation of air, land and water is regional, national and international and we have to follow rules and regulations to avoid facing fines and sanctions. But this is not enough to create good relationships with our stakeholders – we must exceed their expectations. It’s also not enough to sustain us, because, as climate change drives more droughts, floods and other extreme weather events, access to the basic resources that sustain us becomes ever more critical.
Our clear aim for the future is for ArcelorMittal to develop collaborative relationships with local communities and stakeholders – a relationship in which all parties living locally and affected by our operations know ArcelorMittal as an organisation which can be trusted to manage air, land and water responsibly and transparently for the benefit of the environment.
The challenge ahead
We know we face challenges. To name a few, mined land must be restored to usable land; older steel mills need to be regenerated to improve air quality; and steelmaking requires water which should be recycled wherever possible.
This is why ArcelorMittal’s new sustainability framework, outlined in its 2014 Sustainability Report, dedicates one outcome to tackling these challenges with the aim of being a trusted user of air, land, and water. Thankfully, we know we are already on track in this regard.
Last year, for example, ArcelorMittal initiated and completed the following environmental improvement projects:
Air. Our site in Ostrava announced an investment of $6 million in new de-dusting equipment during 2014, which will extract the dust generated during unloading into a new bag filter. This is the best available solution for de-dusting, as it is able to filter even very small particulates. The project is part of the company’s ongoing $130 million environmental improvement programme, of which 85% is subsidised by EU funds.
Land. In 2014, we worked with governmental bodies and NGOs to finalise a first-of-its-kind management plan for the East Nimba Nature Reserve, a unique habitat some 10 kilometres from our mine in Liberia, which is home to a number of important and rare species. Our biodiversity surveys have identified 64 species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of globally threatened species, including the Cephetola wingae butterfly.
Water. At both our steel and mining sites, we actively manage the risk of water contamination to prevent risks to human health and the environment. Water treatment facilities play a vital role in managing our emissions to water, and improving the water efficiency of our operations.
In 2014, the ArcelorMittal team in our US -based Indiana Harbor site explored whether wastewater could be re-used rather than simply treated and discharged. The site is now one of the few steel plants in the US that has a wastewater system designed to achieve zero discharge. This water ends up as a clean steam discharge to the atmosphere.
So what does the future hold? We are committed to enriching the communities where we have a presence and making a positive impact on the environmental and economic conditions in these regions. We want to transform tomorrow with our steel by providing infrastructure for the modern world.
While we know our operations may have some unavoidable impacts on local air, land and water resources, we can create more innovative ways of enhancing habitats and protecting biodiversity by seizing the opportunity to work alongside our stakeholders.
By Alan Knight, general manager, corporate responsibility, ArcelorMittal
Want to know more?
> Learn more about the road ahead by reading ArcelorMittal’s 2014 sustainability report
> Learn more about being a trusted user of air, land and water in our industry
> Catch-up on other posts in this series:
Putting steel at the heart of resource efficiency
Products that create sustainable infrastructure
Pioneering products for sustainable lifestyles
Safe, healthy, quality lives for our people and neighbours
Steel: the sustainability challenge
Image credits: Zach Dischner, Flickr; Kelly Hunter, Flickr;