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Listening to and engaging with the local community in Tubarão, Brazil, was an important part of our plan to expand the town’s steel plant

Engaging with local communities

ArcelorMittal Tubarão is one of the largest companies in Brazil, so our actions have a potentially huge impact on local people and their environment. The slabs produced at our Tubarão site make us a world leader in the semi-finished steel market, accounting for 12% of global slab sales – the steel product used to make flat products such as steel plates and strips.

When we first considered expanding the plant at Tubarão, we set up a major community engagement programme to make sure that we listened to local residents at all stages of the process. Engaging the communities in which we operate is a key part of our corporate responsibility strategy, and crucial to ensuring long-term success where we operate.

Before the initial public hearing about the proposed expansion, we set up meetings in the communities of Serra, Vitória and Vila Velha, which were most likely to be affected by the proposals. This allowed local people to raise issues such as training, labour and potential pressures on services and infrastructure if a lot of new people came into the area to work at the plant.

Increased interest

We knew that local interest in the project would only increase once construction was under way, and planned for regular meetings with community leaders to identify potential problems and disruptions at an early stage. Public services were our first priority. For example, we worked with the local authorities in Serra to lay a new road to ease traffic congestion in surrounding districts. We also funded a new walk-in medical clinic.

Once construction was complete, we made an additional commitment to fund social projects encouraging community sports, leisure, education and professional qualification courses. These were developed by local people as part of a series of workshops we organised on sustainable development.

Throughout the process we aimed to listen and learn. We ensured that the feedback that we asked for was properly addressed, to benefit our own operations and also help ease any social and environmental issues.

"Community engagement is the best way to take account of all our stakeholders’ interests. It also gives us a practical way to show how we’re integrating sustainability principles and practices into our organisational culture and business strategies."

Robson de Almeida Melo e Silva, general manager, ArcelorMittal Brazil

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