In 2016, Russian steelmaker NLMK Group boosted its spending on environmental projects and initiatives by 12% to RUB 7.05 billion (US$123 million).

The majority of funds were used for projects and initiatives to improve air quality, such as upgraded gas cleaning systems at the refractory shop and sintering plant at Lipetsk; and a new dedusting system for blast furnace No.4. The end result was not a single breach of acceptable dust levels, according to the Lipetsk Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Agency.

NLMK Group's other facilities used their allocated funds to finance projects aimed at reclamation of former landfill sites, construction of sewage treatment plants and noise pollution reduction initiatives, among others.

"We adopt new technologies and solutions in an effort to reduce our environmental footprint. Major investment in hundreds of environmental projects and initiatives over the past five years, totalling close to RUB 26 billion, has delivered a significant boost to the company’s environmental performance. The company has ramped up its steel output by almost 50% during this period, while specific emissions have been reduced by 25%,” said Galina Khristoforova, NLMK Group’s director for the environment.

Over the past decade, NLMK Group's specific emissions have been cut by 45% and there are projects underway to reduce air emissions across the Group. At NLMK Lipetsk, for example, there are more than 4,000 state-of-the-art gas-cleaning units capturing over 98% of dust for recycling back into production.

A new pelletising plant featuring a gas-cleaning system that captures 98% of emissions and returns them to the process flow was put into operation at Stoilensky last year. The company’s facilities in the Urals completed a number of initiatives to establish a sanitary protection zone.

NLMK Lipetsk, Altai-Koks, VIZ-Steel, NLMK Kaluga and Stoilensky are said to employ state-of-the-art closed loop supply systems for their process water that delivered a 2% reduction in specific water consumption across the Group to 4.8 m3/t last year. This figure has been reduced by 63% over the past decade. Specific discharges into water dropped by more than 6%. A wastewater treatment plant was built at an NLMK Ural facility in 2016 to eliminate waste-water run-off.

The Group’s recycling rate increased to 14.5%, while total waste output dropped has 5.4% year-on-year. “This is largely overburden rock and beneficiation tailings from Stoilensky, which are not generally viewed as waste elsewhere in the world,” claims the company.

More than 75% of production waste is recycled. At NLMK Lipetsk accumulated waste has been reduced by 2.8Mt over the past 10 years through slag dump recycling. VIZ-Steel recovered 4.1 ha of land through reclamation of the Lesnoy landfill.