EVRAZ’ top environmental priorities include decreasing air emissions. The primary air emissions comprise nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), dust and volatile organic compounds.
In 2011, before adopting its five-year environmental targets, the Group had already substantially reduced its air emissions. The current strategy for reducing air emissions envisages upgrading gas treatment systems, introducing modern technologies and eliminating obsolete equipment. In 2016, key air emissions were down by 3.5 thousand tonnes (or 2.6%) compared with 2015.
The management has also decided to conduct a like-for-like analysis that rebases the target by excluding data related to divested assets (EVRAZ VGOK, EVRAZ Vitkovice Steel, Evrazruda’s Krasnoyarsk mines, EVRAZ ZSMK’s central power plant, EVRAZ Highveld and EVRAZ NTMK’s Nizhnesaldinsky metal mill), which shows that key air emissions at current assets have risen by 18.8% since 2011. This has been driven primarily by an increase in sulphur content in the coal and ore used at EVRAZ ZSMK’s power and sinter plants, which has resulted in higher SOx emissions, and higher NOx emissions at EVRAZ KGOK. However, EVRAZ’ emission reduction initiatives are expected to decrease key air emissions over the coming years.
Greenhouse gas emissions
EVRAZ’ operations also generate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Group understands the urgency of climate change prevention and supports the global effort to reduce the emission of GHGs into the atmosphere. In compliance with the Companies Act 2006 (Strategic and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013, EVRAZ measures the full GHG emissions its facilities and has taken part in the CDP Climate Change Programme since 2011.
The Group measures direct emissions of all seven “Kyoto” GHGs1 and indirect emissions from the use of electricity and heat. The inventory approach2 was based on the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (IPCC 2006) and the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. EVRAZ reports data in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (tCO2e), calculated using the IPCC Fourth assessment report (2007) global warming potentials.
Data on GHG emissions were collected for 2016 and compared with 2013-2015 levels. The Steel segment continues to generate more than half of gross GHG emissions from Group operations. Nearly 92% of the Coal segment’s full emissions come from fugitive methane (CH4) leakage, which is caused by methane ventilation from underground mines and postmining emissions from coal.
Overall GHG emissions from EVRAZ’ operations fell by about 5% year-on-year in 2016. Emissions of CO2 remain at the 2015 level due to the cumulative effect of a minor increase at the Steel segment (up around 0.4 million tCO2e) and the cease in operations at EVRAZ Highveld Steel and Vanadium in 2016. In the Coal segment, CH4 emissions dropped by 10% due to a lower methane content in the coal mined as well as lower coal extraction at some mines.
All told, EVRAZ brought down its Scope 1 emissions by 2% and its Scope 2 emissions by roughly 19%, due to the cease in operations at EVRAZ Highveld Steel and Vanadium in 2016 (which accounted for some 6%) and lower volumes of energy purchased by EVRAZ NTMK and EVRAZ ZSMK in 2016.
EVRAZ reports an intensity ratio relating its annual GHG emissions to its activities: total Scope 1 and 2 emissions per consolidated revenue for the Group overall and each operating segment (see graphs). In addition, specific emissions in the Steel segment per tonne of steel cast for 2013-16 are compared with average specific emissions of World Steel Association members for 2015. Higher specific GHG emissions in the Steel segment may be due to the key role played by integrated iron and steel works (which inherently emit more GHGs than rolling mills) in EVRAZ’ steel production.
Water consumption and water discharge
EVRAZ strives to make efficient use of water resources and prevent any negative water quality impacts through environmental incidents. In 2016, almost 84% of EVRAZ total water intake for production needs was from surface sources, including rivers, lakes and reservoirs – the same result as in 2015.
In 2016, the ongoing water management performance improvement programmes at EVRAZ’ operations began to show their first environmental benefits, evidenced by the 3.3% year-on-year reduction in fresh water consumption (down by 11.3 million cubic metres compared to 2015).
Given the HSE Committee’s decision to re-base the target by excluding data related to disposed assets, fresh water consumption was down by 78.2 million cubic metres (17.3%) compared with the 2011 adjusted baseline. Water discharge was reduced by 45.15 million cubic metres over 2012-2016.
Water pumped from mines (dewatering) is not included in the fresh water consumption target, although pumped water is partly used for technological needs. In 2016, 20.3 million cubic metres of mine water were pumped out and used, compared with 20.5 million cubic metres in 2015.
Mining and steelmaking operations produce significant amounts of waste, including waste rock, spent ore and tailings (waste from processing ore and concentrates). EVRAZ aims to reduce the amount of waste that it produces, re-use natural resources where possible and dispose of waste in a manner that minimises the environmental impact while maximising operational and financial efficiency.
In line with the Group’s strategy to reduce waste storage volumes and enhance waste disposal, EVRAZ enterprises regularly review opportunities for waste recycling and reuse.
In 2016, EVRAZ steel mills generated 9.65 million tonnes of metallurgical waste (slag, sludge, scale etc) and recycled or reused 11.59 million tonnes. Overall, the Group recycled or reused 120.1% of non-mining waste and by-products in 2016, compared with 126% in 2015.
The main reason for the lower waste recycling rate is that EVRAZ ZSMK sold its slag processing plant and slag disposal facility to an external recycling company. EVRAZ’ strategy for dealing with nonhazardous mining wastes, such as depleted rock, tailings and overburden, is to use them where possible for land rehabilitation and the construction of dams or roads. In 2016, 18.2% or 28.7 million tonnes of such waste material were reused, compared with 17% or 24.6 million tonnes in 2015. All non-recyclable waste is stored in facilities that are designed to prevent any harmful substances contained in the waste from escaping into the environment. Safety at such facilities is monitored extremely closely, and steps have been taken to mitigate as far as possible any danger to third parties in an emergency.