With water becoming an increasingly scarce resource, restrictions on its use 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 between 2012 and 2015, in 2016 our consumption of water increased by 3%.
Since then it has been stable, with consumption intensity up by slightly more than 1% in 2018 vs. 2017, at 9.9m3/ton of slab. Some of our sites are improving, such as Imphy, which discontinued the use of old equipment that operated with an open circuit. As a result, the site improved its water recycling rate by 1.7 points, reaching 96.3% in 2018.
Overall, our rate of closed circuits stands at 95.6% in 2018, slightly better than last year, although this is below our best performance of 96.3% in 2016.Due to its significant contribution to the group’s overall water consumption, our Timóteo site - the biggest within the Aperam Group - must make the biggest efforts, whereas our other sites will continue their ongoing improvement.
Our Timóteo site is located next to the Piracicaba River. It uses up to 1980 m3/h of water on average. The plant has planned various projects through 2023, each of which aims to help reduce the site’s water intake by 40% (by 2023, compared to 2018). This effort involves a number of investment projects, with a total cost of a few million euros.
> In our last report, we mentioned that the Isbergues site conducted a full study with an external company and the French Water Agency. Currently, there is a rainwater collection system on a 27 hectares area and two water intakes from the canal that feed the various operations on the site, including non-Aperam companies. The site is below Aperam’s average in terms of water recycling ratio, even with Recyco reporting an excellent 99% rate. The situation is clearly complex, and based on the conclusions of the study received in January 2018, it has been decided to address it using a phased approach. In particular, all topics related to recycling water from the sludge treatment station will be put on hold until the end of the current contract with our subcontractor (2021). In the meantime, the decision was made to tackle two priority topics, namely a back-and-forth motion device that handles intakes from the canal and an outdated rainwater discharge system.
A specific study will be conducted in 2019, in partnership with the French Water Agency, to ensure that the important investments at stake (EUR 1-2m) bring maximum benefits. In particular, we believe that a well-designed new system could significantly cut intake by improving the water recycling ratio. In parallel, a different study, also to be performed in 2019, will evaluate the measures needed to improve the quality of the water we recycle so that it is equivalent to that of the canal. First improvement works could start in 2020.
> In terms of water quality, which we started to report publicly in 2016, we constantly treat our effluents and monitor our discharge into the nearby rivers, sometimes conducting daily sampling and analysis of pH, temperature and turbidity. Overall, our indicators (water discharge in volumes, particles of suspended solids and metals in water) decreased in 2018 versus 2017, but more work is necessary to improve performance to meet our new 2030 target.
In 2018, we had several instances of water discharge not meeting our permits’ specifications. These incidents, which occurred at our Châtelet and Gueugnon sites, were identified either through visual detection, audits or chemical analysis. Although there is no reason to believe that these regrettable incidents had a significant impact on the natural environment, they led to official claims from the authorities, which we responded to diligently.
Based on these incidents, Aperam will rethink its overall pollution and water discharge management strategy for its main sites, with the aim of further enhancing our across-the-board standards for equipment and procedures. First Company-wide standards will be finalised in the course of 2019 in this field.