Our steel plant in Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, is a major source of employment for the local area. In the past it was also one of the major contributors of dust emissions in the city, and our reputation with local stakeholders suffered greatly as a result.
By 2012, the steel plant was compliant with EU regulations, but ArcelorMittal committed to going further.
We began a focused and wide-reaching programme of stakeholder engagement, strengthening our relations with local residents, experts and government. In 2014, we began an extensive investment programme worth in excess of CZK3 billion ($130 million) with generous support from the European Union. Once complete in 2016, this investment will bring our air emissions far below EU limits.
As part of this programme, no less than 13 environmental projects in 2015 applied state-of-the-art de-dusting technology to every part of the steelmaking process there, meaning that overall dust emissions – both those ducted through our flues and diffuse dust – will fall by around 500 tonnes a year. The site emitted 0.3kg of dust for each tonne of steel it produced in 2015, compared to our global average of 0.66kg/t.
As part of our stakeholder engagement in recent years, we also joined a group of experts to understand the broader problem of air quality in Ostrava and the role of the steel industry within it. In October 2015, a three-year ‘fingerprint’ study of the sources of air pollution for local residents, led by the Ostrava Public Health Authority, was published, with the support of the Environment Operation Program and the Regional Authority of the Moravian-Silesian region. The predominant sources of pollution, making up 80% of pollution for residents, were found to be the transport system, adjacent countries, and in winter the local heating system. Only around 10% of local pollution comes from the metals industry of Ostrava.
At the end of 2015 our work was acknowledged by an award from the Czech Ministry of Industry And Trade, for the significant improvements we had made to our environmental footprint. This was important recognition for us. But we know how vital it is to retain the trust of the local community, and this is something we continue to work on.