With water becoming an increasingly scarce resource, restrictions on its use and on the quality of the water discharged will become more and more common. As a result, Aperam has defined a -43% reduction target in terms of water consumption over 2015.
After continuous decreases in consumption between 2012 and 2015, and a stabilization since then, our 2019 performance looks disappointing. The year saw a stagnating water recycling ratio (95.3% vs. 95.7% in average since 2015) and 23 millions of cubic meters withdrawn from various sources (for the split, see the graph below), which corresponds to a +18% increase in intake intensity.
In addition to the heavy impact linked to reduced production volumes, which de-optimize our processes, our 2019 results have been slightly impacted by a change of methodology. To compare our sites and challenge them to better optimize their water consumption, we decided to integrate the volumes of rain that falls on our roofs independently from whether or not the site channels and uses this water. This approach is more logical because this water is counted at the exit as it is going to the discharge points via the gutters. It is also a way to entice units to leverage these volumes, storing them and/or reducing proportionally the volumes withdrawn from near-by waterways.
Overall, compared to our 2015 baseline, our consumption has increased by 15% in 2019, of which 3% is linked to this rainwater adjustment. This is not satisfactory as we aim to reduce our consumption by 40% by 2030.
To see the impact of our eucalyptus forest on water, check this page.
Water Discharge Quality
We started to report publicly about water quality in 2016 to show that we treat our effluents and monitor our discharge into the rivers in line with our permits in terms of volumes, pH, temperature, particles of suspended solids and metals in water.
Overall, our indicators deteriorated versus 2018, although they remained in line with our authorization. This is mainly due to specific issues that happened at our Timóteo plant last year (they discharged 95% of the Group volumes of suspended solids into water in 2019).
That being said, Aperam’s Belgian and French sites have improved regularly over the last three to five years. As of 2019, they reduced the total volume of suspended solids in the water by 88% (Belgium) and 73% (France) compared to 2015.
Our objective is to maintain and improve this excellent European performance and apply these best practices to our Brazilian unit.