Mining is a water-intensive industry, often taking place in dry areas. We use a range of techniques and initiatives to optimise our water use and protect water systems.

Tailings thickening

We use a tailings thickening step in the downstream process from the concentrator, which allows clear water flow to be directly used in the process and reduces tailings water. At Peña Colorada in Mexico, the tailings are in the range of 40 to 45% solids. We’re now taking thickening one step further, installing a paste plant where tailings will be further thickened to 68% solids, reaching up to 70% and the overflow reused directly in the process.

To avoid polluting the surface water runoff we also segregate it from process water, and we divert it for the same reason. This reduces the load and size of the clarification systems for water reuse, and also reduces environmental impacts.

Since 2018, all new capital projects employing wet concentration considered in ArcelorMittal Mines must include dry tailings solutions. View details about how we ensure the safety of tailings storage facilities.


Photos below of our tailings thickening plant at Peña Colorada in Mexico.

Water recirculation

ArcelorMittal Brasil has one of the highest rates of water recirculation amongst Brazilian steelmakers, of approximately 98%. Between 2015 and 2017, ArcelorMittal Mineração Serra Azul managed to reduce its water intake by more than 50%, from efficiencies in both the mining and processing stages. The plant’s water resource management from ArcelorMittal Mineração Serra Azul provide high rates of water recirculation in the iron ore beneficiation process. In 2019, until September, the index was 88.5%.


Recognising the importance of water within our business and our communities, we continued our leadership role in Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) in 2019, a public-private partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), U.S. EPA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.D.A. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service. SOGL’s mission is to restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitat throughout the basin by leveraging funding, building conservation capacity and focusing partners and their resources on key ecological issues. Since 2006, the program has awarded 337 grants totalling nearly $81 million, which when combined with $93.5 million in grantee match, has resulted in a total conservation investment of more than $174.5 million in the region.