Steel giant keen to push the boundaries
Cutting emissions and maintaining an unwavering commitment to corporate responsibility remain vital to ArcelorMittal, writes Tom Idle
It is the world’s biggest steel company with operations in more than 60 countries to feed the global automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging industries.
Last year, it turned over $65.1B and produced 73.2M tonnes of crude steel, representing around 8% of world steel output.
And with this level of reach and hefty weight of impact, ArcelorMittal is increasingly aware of the need to take responsibility for the way it treats society and the environment. Despite the tough economic climate, the company has just recorded a 24% improvement in its safety record and managed to maintain its corporate responsibility commitments throughout the year.
Published to coincide with the company’s AGM at its Luxembourg headquarters in May, its latest CR report, Our Progress Towards Safe Sustainable Steel, demonstrates its progress. The entire group’s lost time injury frequency rate fell to 1.9 per million hours worked last year – and it is targeted to continue to reduce its accident rate by a further 20% by the end of the year.
“There is no doubt that 2009 represented one of the most challenging years on record, not only for the steel industry but across the business world,” says chairman and CEO Lakshmi N. Mittal.
“Despite this dramatic backdrop, which had inevitable repercussions for our global operations, our commitment to corporate responsibility remained unwavering. I draw attention to our significant improvement in the overwhelmingly important area of safety – a positive trend we are determined to build upon in 2010.”
On the environmental impact side, the business reaffirmed its commitment to cut the CO2 emissions coming from its operations by 8% over the next ten years. This is based on a 2007 baseline and is the equivalent to a 170kg reduction per tonne of steel produced in its plethora of factories.
Steel-making accounts for about 3% of total man-made CO2 emissions and 27% of emissions coming from the whole manufacturing sector. Most steel is made by using the primary blast furnace method with every tonne of steel produced resulting in 1.5 to 2 tonnes of CO2.
ArcelorMittal is trying to use an alternative process though, using electric arc furnaces that produce much fewer emissions, but its use is limited by the availability of scrap and scrap substitutes. About a quarter the steel made at its plants is produced in this way and this is
likely to ramped up as an effective way of cutting carbon.
Keen to push the boundaries of steel, not just by investing in technical innovation and production R&D, but also in promoting industry best practice. Last year, ArcelorMittal South Africa joined forces with the South African Department of Education and agreed to build ten new schools using innovative steel-framed construction techniques.
In China, the ArcelorMittal Foundation, established in 2007 as a non-profit to support community projects around the world, donated $1.54M to assist with the reconstruction of Xinhuamen Primary School following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. It created a new steel-framed facility that offers a much higher degree of earthquake protection. And, again through the group’s Foundation, it donated of $1M to help the relief efforts after Haiti’s earthquake.
“We consider it our responsibility as a business to drive best practice in sustainable steel – not only from an environmental perspective but also in the equally important areas of social development and employee welfare,” explains Gonzalo Urquijo, the board member responsible for corporate responsibility.
Other efforts include a commitment to professional development within the business, offering 278,000 hours of online learning last year in conjunction with the ArcelorMittal University.
The ArcelorMittal Foundation also celebrated its 2nd International Volunteer Work Day, with more than 8,500 employees taking part around the world.
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