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ArcelorMittal publishes Biodiversity Conservation Programme annual report
Did you know that ArcelorMittal steel forms the backbone of the world’s most iconic skyline? From Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge, our contribution to the Big Apple can be found across New York City.
ArcelorMittal Liberia has published its second annual biodiversity conservation programme report, highlighting the progress being made in the company’s dedicated programme. The report includes the news that an important agreement has been reached with local communities that will help to protect the future of Liberia’s East Nimba Nature Reserve.
While the first year of the biodiversity conservation programme was spent in discussions with stakeholders, fact finding and evaluation, and drawing up agreements - the latest 45-page report shows the first tangible results of the programme, which is now in its second year.
The programme aims to fill the gaps in current scientific knowledge of the biodiversity in the Nimba mountain range, home to ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Tokadeh mine, and to work with local communities to preserve the forest which is one of Africa’s top five biodiversity hotspots.
ArcelorMittal’s scientific research focuses on flora and fauna that are endemic to the Nimba mountain range, including the critically endangered Nimba Otter Shrew. Former hunters (pictured, right) are now working with ArcelorMittal Liberia’s environment team to trap the otter shrews, and a survey in December will fit radio collars to track their movements. The data collected from the radio collars will directly influence the company’s operational decisions as to the size of buffer zones needed between the shrews’ habitat and the mining area. In addition, the research will provide valuable information about the ecology of this species that will be used to develop a conservation management plan for the Nimba Otter Shrew. An initial report on the Otter Shrew’s habitat has already been compiled. The next step is thethe collection of more substantial scientific data on the mammal.
Another key area of the conservation programme focuses on encouraging farmers to change from shifting cultivation – a practice where plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned and allowed to revert to their natural vegetation – to permanent, stabilised agriculture in one location. In practice, this means cultivating tree crops that require fewer nutrients; growing this kind of crop also requires a move from subsistence to low-level commercial agriculture, therefore research is being carried out to analyse the markets for crops such as sugar cane and oil palm.
The programme is shaped by a philosophy that all the work undertaken as part of the programme should be informed by the best science. “Our scientific work is very carefully focussed. The main aim for the programme is to understand and influence land use practices in order to find ways to conserve the forest. To do this, we have to have established mechanisms and agree on which areas of the forest are to be protected” said John Howell, environmental adviser to ArcelorMittal Liberia.
Local farmers are currently testing various models of conservation agriculture which rely on very low labour and technical input (pictured, below) to find out which methods are best suited to the local environment.
“We have seen the first harvests starting to come in, with some very positive comments from farmers who are seeing larger yields from crops that require less labour to cultivate. This is a long term programme and it is still early days – the next step is to find out whether this can work on a large scale” said Howell.
As part of the conservation programme, an agreement has been made to protect the East Nimba forest area, which is one of only three protected habitats in Liberia. While the Nimba reserve is home to endangered flora and fauna, it is also used by local communities to support their livelihoods, through hunting, agriculture and harvesting of non-timber forest products such as rattan, mushrooms, palm products and snails. Thanks to workshops funded by ArcelorMittal but facilitated by international non-government organisations (NGOs) Conservation International and Fauna & Flora International, all the stakeholders have reached an agreement that means the East Nimba Nature Reserve will be used solely for conservation for the next five years. This historic agreement has laid down a challenge to conservationists to prove to the communities that live near the reserve that conservation can pay.
ArcelorMittal Liberia has also been working with community forest groups in forests outside the reserve borders, to educate communities about the forests’ biodiversity and to show why they are worth conserving. Work is underway to zone the forests, with some areas used for conservation, agriculture and mining. “It is exciting to see that the community forest groups agree that conservation is one of the top priorities for these forests. These groups know that the number of animals in the forest is declining. What they do not know is how to sustain them – and we are working to help them change this” said Howell.
ArcelorMittal Liberia launched its biodiversity conservation programme in August 2011, with US$1m invested to date as part of the company’s phase one iron ore mining operations. The initiative, which is overseen by the ceo of ArcelorMittal Liberia, Antonia Maria, and the managing director of the Forestry Development Authority, Harrison Karnwea, is intended to compensate for the impact of the mining of direct shipping ore during phase one of ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operations, from 2011 to 2015. In exploiting an area’s natural resources and unlocking wealth – in this case, through mining iron ore – ArcelorMittal Liberia’s conservation strategy is to set up systems to manage renewable resources.
According to international best practice, where operations cause irreversible damage to a landscape, compensation must be offered to those affected. ArcelorMittal Liberia’s biodiversity conservation programme is one of the first examples in West Africa of an active compensatory environmental programme that is working with communities, to support their livelihoods while taking a long-term view on how to preserve the forest for future generations.
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The first, and some would argue the greatest, contribution to New York by ArcelorMittal was the Empire State Building. Bethlehem Steel – which went on to become International Steel Group, and finally ArcelorMittal - supplied major structural steels for the iconic structure.
Construction began in 1929 and was completed in 1931, with the building becoming the world’s tallest skyscraper for the following 40 years. Bethlehem Steel’s wide-flange beams, developed a century ago, are acknowledged as having made the skyscraper era possible.
By the end of the 1920s, the stage had been set by for our steel to dominate the most famous skyline in the world; an estimated 80% of the New York skyline contained steel made by Bethlehem Steel. Those making the journey from Manhattan to Brooklyn were also touched by our steel – the famous Brooklyn Bridge contains our wire rope.
The Big Apple and ArcelorMittal beams – an enduring relationship
Just a year after construction began on the Empire State, building started on another New York City landmark, the Rockefeller Center. One of our beams produced one of the world’s most famous photographs, ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’. This black and white image of 11 construction workers sitting on a wide-flange beam, the Grey Beam, at the 69th floor level without any harnesses became world famous.
Our beams – H beams – also featured in one of the biggest local rivalries of the skyscraper era. Banker George Ohrstrom and Walter Chrysler, founder of the automotive giant Chrysler Corporation, were in a race to back different projects to build the world’s tallest building in the 1930s. Ohrstrom’s Chase Manhattan Bank, today known as the Trump Building, contains 53,000 tonnes of our steel, as does the famous art-deco Chrysler Building.
Today, our steel stands tall and proud in the One World Trade Centre which had its final piece – the spire – lifted to its top in May 2013. The skyscraper contains more than 14,000 tonnes of our world-famous jumbo beams from ArcelorMittal Differdange in Luxembourg in its structural frame and uses 10,000 tonnes of plate supplied by our Coatesville site in the state of Pennsylvania in the US.
The HISTAR ® trail
Only a couple of blocks away from the One World Trade Centre is one of the tallest buildings in New York and one of the many stops on what we have dubbed the NYC HISTAR® trail - Times Square 4 or the Condé Nast building.
In fact, there are currently 15 structures in New York which have been built using our special patented HISTAR®, or (Hi)gh (St)rength steel (Ar)celorMittal which combines high yield strength with excellent toughness at low temperatures and outstanding weldability - material properties that were considered incompatible before its development in 1991.
Optimal use of this range of steels allows for up to 60% overall weight reduction to be achieved, which in turn directly reduces the CO2 footprint up to 40% and the primary energy consumption of any building that uses them. The best example of this aspect of HISTAR® can be found in the Hearst Tower. Located in the heart of Manhattan, this striking building is a unique combination of a 1920s art deco masterpiece and a new-millennium, 46-storey skyscraper that also happens to be among the top 10% of energy-efficient buildings in the US.
In 2006, the Hearst Tower received a LEED gold certification, making it the first skyscraper in New York to achieve the coveted green building seal.
With ArcelorMittal’s steel having been in the world’s tallest buildings since the start of the skyscraper era, it is safe to assume that our company’s steel will continue to transform the dazzling skyline of this much-loved city.
NYC buildings that contain our steel:
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ArcelorMittal publishes Biodiversity Conservation Programme annual report
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ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company. Guided by a philosophy to produce safe, sustainable steel, it is the leading supplier of quality steel products in all major markets including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging. ArcelorMittal is present in more than 60 countries and has an industrial footprint in over 20 countries.
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