Michel Wurth, Chairman - ArcelorMittal Luxembourg
Alex Nick, Vice-president - ArcelorMittal Luxembourg
In 2015, ArcelorMittal in Luxembourg had its “Entreprise Socialement Responsable” (Socially Responsible Company) label renewed by INDR (National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility) for a period of three years. The awarding of this label, which is issued after a stringent audit carried out by an independent consultant examining all the company’s different fields of activity, recognises the efforts made by ArcelorMittal in Luxembourg to develop the Sustainable Development approach it first embraced many years ago.
We see it as our social responsibility to work actively towards Sustainable Development.
The company already has a long-standing commitment to its stakeholders. This goes back to the early days of the steel industry, when the company introduced a social policy for its employees including health insurance and pensions and provided access to everyday consumer products via cooperative purchasing associations. Indeed, the management also contributed to setting up the Red Cross in Luxembourg in 1914.
Nowadays, ArcelorMittal continues to pursue this philosophy and extend it to all its stakeholders. The health and safety of its employees and co-contractors remain paramount to the Group. The journey to Zero Accidents remains a top priority. Throughout our operations in Luxembourg, our accident frequency rate has improved further and stood at 1.07 in 2015. This, albeit slight, improvement shows that progress can still be made.
We shall continue to address the challenge of a greener economy by manufacturing products designed to achieve this goal. Our Usibor® steel produced at Dudelange helps lighten the structure of vehicles and promote lower fuel consumption. At Differdange, our lighter, stronger beams used in skyscrapers all over the world offer a weight saving (and consequently CO2 reduction) of up to 40%. Belval has benefited from 35 million euros investment and can now supply its customers with wider, stronger and lighter sheet piles which also offer CO2 savings. Bissen manufactures Crapal® vineyard wire which is 2 to 16 times more resistant to corrosion than standard galvanised wire and features reduce coatings' thickness. This is what makes our products ideal for sustainable infrastructures.
Steel is a high-tech, infinitely recyclable product, ideally suited to a circular economy. We are developing our range of reusable sheet piles based on these principles. By channelling back onto the market “second-hand” sheet pile re-conditioned for optimal reuse, we can save natural resources and avoid further CO2 emissions.
Finally, ArcelorMittal in Luxembourg participated in “The Third Industrial Revolution”, a strategic study carried out by the Luxembourg government, the Chamber of Commerce and IMS, and took part in the related discussions, contributing the group’s experience on materials that can be recycled and the circular economy.
We are more strongly committed than ever before to producing safe, sustainable steel. We are confident that, with our products, we have a contribution to make to the modern world while respecting the natural and social environment and our stakeholders.
However, despite this positive message for Luxembourg steel, the future of the European and indeed the Luxembourg steel industry is uncertain. The market situation has turned out difficult over recent months, as a result of unfair business practices on the part of certain producer countries such as China.
The Middle Kingdom, facing huge overcapacity – equivalent to the cumulative production volumes of Europe and the NAFTA region (United States, Canada, Mexico) – has been flooding the world and European markets with steel sold at uncompetitive prices. This commercial dumping should be severely reprimanded, through the swift implementation of rapid, effective action by the European Union to discourage this kind of practice.
Furthermore, China is claiming Market Economy Status, while it does not remotely meet the conditions for such benefits. Only one of the five criteria required to be considered a market economy is currently met by the country. All steel producers have alerted the European authorities to the risks of this recognition. It would effectively negate all anti-dumping measures and open the door to the massive export of steel from China to Europe. This would have disastrous consequences for European steel which is already suffering significantly from these practices as we can see from the serious difficulties faced by the UK steel industry over recent months.
Finally, the steel industry supports European Union climate policy and welcomes the agreement reached at the climate conference held in Paris last December. Nevertheless, the proposed reform by the European Union of the emissions trading system could cost the European steel industry between 70 and 100 billion euros between 2020 and 2030. This is money which is sorely needed for research into evermore environmentally friendly techniques for producing steel.
The additional constraints imposed by this reform, which do not affect steel producers anywhere else in the world, will lead to a distortion of international competition and make manufacturers reconsider their industrial presence in Europe, with adverse effects both for society and the environment.
Why should we raise such matters here? Quite simply because these are threats which affect the future of European steel, one of the "cleanest" steels on the planet.
The efforts of the European steel industry in terms of the effectiveness of its environmental, energy and social approaches could be reduced to ashes if the competent authorities stand by and do nothing. The stakes are high – Sustainable Development could be seriously undermined if the right decisions are not taken and implemented in time.