Russian steelmaker Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (MMK) has approved its environmental goals for 2020 and the MMK Group's environmental programme, which will cost RUB 13.3 billion (US$180 million) this year of which RUB 12.95 billion (US$175 million) will be allocated by the parent company.

Pavel Shilyaev, MMK's CEO, said that the company's key objectives in the field of environmental protection for 2020 were to reduce the air quality index reading in Magnitogorsk by 6%, reduce overall emissions of air pollutants by 3%, and reduce dust emissions on production lines in the sintering plant, coke and chemical production and at the blast furnace and steelmaking/oxygen converter plants by 17% per one tonne of steel. He said that MMK intends to recycle over 10Mt of current and waste metallurgical slags and use 1.8Mt of waste as secondary material resources in sintering production.

According to MMK, the most significant part of its environmental investments – more than RUB 6 billion (US$81 million) – will be spent on the construction of environmental protection structures at new production facilities, primarily in coking production. In particular, environmental protection facilities at the coke oven battery complex No.12, which are under construction, as well as facilities being built as part of the reconstruction of the chemical products capture and processing plant.

MMK's environmental programme for 2020 includes 48 measures to reduce pollutant emissions – traditionally one of the priorities in the environmental activities of the plant. This year, measures to protect air quality will affect all metallurgical processing plants, as well as divisions within the main energy and logistics departments. Key activities in this area are the construction of an aspiration system for the foundry yard of blast furnace No. 2, the reconstruction of gas cleaning and exhaust paths of steel furnaces in the electric steelmaking shop, and the implementation of a programme to reduce dust and gas emissions at the coke shop. In total, over RUB 3.7 billion (US$50 million) will be spent on measures to reduce harmful emissions in 2020. The implementation of these measures will allow the company to achieve emissions reduction targets, ensure compliance with environmental regulations and improve the efficiency and reliability of gas treatment plant equipment.

This year, MMK will allocate over RUB 2.4 billion (US$32 million) to implement 20 measures to reduce the pollutants discharged into water bodies, the largest of which is the reconstruction of a mechanical and biochemical wastewater treatment plant at the chemical products capture and processing plant.

MMK's environmental programme also provides for the implementation of nine measures for waste disposal in 2020, which will cost more than RUB 300 million (US$4.04 million), and five measures for the reclamation of disturbed land, costing around RUB 500 million (US$6.7 million). There are plans for 19 further environmental measures worth RUB 340 million (US$4.5 million) in MMK Group companies. In total, the company's environmental programme involves the implementation of 105 measures, for which the Group plans to allocate RUB 13.3 million (US$180,000).

Continuous reduction and prevention of harmful environmental impacts is an essential element of MMK's long-term and sustainable development strategy. MMK's environmental management system is certified to meet the requirements of the international standard ISO 14001: 2015. The plant is implementing its 'Clean city' strategic initiative, which assumes that the air quality index reading in Magnitogorsk will decrease to 5 units by 2025, corresponding with the status of 'clean city'. At the same time, there are plans to reduce total emissions in Magnitogorsk by 20%, and emissions of the most harmful hazard class 1 and 2 substances by 10 times.

Mr Shilyaev noted that the plant's environmental initiatives have already had a positive impact on the quality of air in Magnitogorsk. In 2019, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology removed Magnitogorsk from the list of cities with the highest level of air pollution.