|Almost daily do we witness in the media space an ongoing and never ending discussion broadly generalized – that of ecology and environment protection. Most laics, and I feel sufficiently entitled to call myself one, conceive matters of ecology as somewhat of a foggy affair, given its most juvenile state of development and an unevenly broadband coverage. There are as well numerous partisans of a theory claiming that the whole rush about ecology is but pure, deliberate wave of misinterpretation, enabling to conceal behind that PR-cover authentic and most important factors. Opponents of the environmental issue are numerous, and their ranks grow thicker especially in third world countries that are actually on the rise – argumenting, that ecology is a purposedly conceived economic phenomenon, by which the Westerners strive to put an artificial fringe to their progress, restraining them from cultivating the positive economic impetus, and last, but not least – that it is a wasteful and costly luxury that only the rich and “parvenu” can afford.||
How well do we realize our collective responsibility towards environment? How much are we able to sacrifice, to retreat from for the sake of the greater, yet still unclear positive consequences? Digging into this very problematic issue, I was as much surprised by finding an up-to-date, harmonic and objective definition of environmental protection in basic documents outlining corporate responsibility amidst ArcelorMittal Ostrava, a.s., as I was by the fact, that not only aren’t they idle talk, but on the contrary - most advanced strategies that are being fully implemented and which provide a solid theoretical background for several concrete steps towards environment protection. For someone used to reading between the lines, as he puts together tough and self-confident affirmations from the published papers of ArcelorMittal Ostrava Environment programme (put ahead in 2006), and the list of projects already realized or taken into consideration, it becomes evident that the management of ArcelorMittal Ostrava is indeed paying due attention to these issues.
Innovation and modernization may appear for someone uninvolved as deliberate improvisations of an idle brain, yet on the other hand it may be considered as the “ultima ratio” for most global corporations, that are forced,while opposing the structural problems of economic recession, to find ways how to uphold steady production in spite of rising production costs. By approving measures leading to the increase of the added value, to the efficient use of labour and time, by carefully safeguarding human and natural potential, we are paving the way for the reinforcement of quality as opposed to quantity… Tomas Bata, the famous Czech entrepreneur and businessman, whom his contemporaries often nicknamed “Henry Ford of Europe” as an hommage to his wise and revolutionary management strategy (care of the employee), issued a statement back in 1930’s, commenting on the progress of the Great Recession – “…this is a crisis of morale, of misinterpreted priorities; only if we can agree collectively (i.e. management and staff) on what is important, and discern the willingness to follow that goal, are we to succeed…”
Apparently, there exist such collective persuasion and willingness in ArcelorMittal Ostrava. During the last five years the company has spent more than 1.5 bn CZK on production development, ecology and safety. A similar trend is expected in the years to come. The company’s goal is to fulfill the medium-period strategy, that foresees a modernized production of sophisticated rolled products of specific qualities with a higher added value. Fundamental, ground-lying documents of corporate responsibility, like the following – the company’s Code of Conduct, the Integrated Management System and its adapted derivate – Environmental Management System, and finally the company’s Environment Programme, outlined in 2006 – all of them testify, that Ecology is a priority jointly agreed upon by the management and the staff, reflecting broad public discussion on each single project with “affected” parties – mayors, towns and municipalities, elected representatives of self-governing bodies.
In socialist times there existed among local people a peculiar saying – “Ostrava černá”, meaning “Black Ostrava” and reflecting the city’s anxious and deprived environment, its vulnerability. Nowadays a newcomer is positively amazed at the obviously fresh air, the abundance of greenery, trees and park zones in the downtown. Of course, much of it is due to the closed coal mines, that are not exploited any more. But let us have a quick look at the list of achievements in the field of environment protection, that have been realized by ArcelorMittal Ostrava since 2004, when the former JSC Nová Huť was taken over by Lakshmi Mittal, whose strategy was above all focused on the restructuring and modernization of declining steelworks. At the present phase of the company’s development, the decreasing of environmental load es ensured mainly by the following:
Ad. 1) Numerous sophisticated and high-tech improvements have been made in five major production facilities, which are at the same time the most “polluting” – Coking Plant, Blast Furnaces, Steel Plant, Rolling Mills and Service. In the Coking plant there have been formerly operating up to 11 coke-oven batteries (KB) with minimum environmental facilities and with an annual production about 3.5 million tonnes of coke. Nowadays 3 coke-oven batteries are fully operational, 2 of them (N.1 and 2) are stamp charged batteries and 1 large volume coke-oven battery is top charged. Annual production amounts to 1.5 million tonnes of coke. As to the Blast Furnaces – five sintering belts were operated previously. Two of them were exhausted by old outdated electric filters and three by multi-cyclones. Four blast furnaces were operated in continuous regime without dust exhaustion of casting platforms. Nowadays all 5 sintering belts are fitted with advanced electric filters. Casting platforms nearby the blast furnaces proper are fully exhausted with one BF remaining in cold reserve. In the Steel Plant 4 tandem type, twin-hearth furnaces have been introduced instead of 10 Siemens-Martin and Maerz-Boehlenz furnaces with minimum environmental facilities, and the annual production shifted to 3.2 mln tonnes of crude steel cast on continuous casting equipment from the former 4 mln tonnes of crude steel cast into obsolete ingots. In the Rolling Mills operation of all 42 soaking pits for preheating ingots had been stopped due to the replacement of ingot casting by continuous casting. Last but not least stand the Service facilities, where formerly 8cold-air cupola and medium-frequency furnaces all operated with insufficient environmental facilities; annual production up to ca 89 thousand tonnes of grey cast iron and steel castings. Former assortment included mainly heavy castings intended for metallurgical production. Nowadays an induction, melting shop is being operated, with two up-to-date induction furnaces. Present annual production is some 12 thousand tonnes of grey cast iron, nodular cast iron and steel castings. Due to the shut-down of ingot way, the present assortment of the company consists of complicated and demanding engineering castings, as fas as shape is concerned, and light castings intended for engineering production.
Ad 2) Implementing environmental measures. A whole array of enviro-projects has been launched in the past, in order to keep it brief we’ll just point out the most resounding:
Ad 3) Speaking of the Integrated Management System and its environmental vector, worth mentioning are the following conclusions and guidelines: defining and regular actualisation of the so-called environmental policy as part of the policy of IMS.
The quality of products and services belongs to the top priorities of the company. It considers the environmental protection, observance of legal and other requirements, to which the company is subject to in this field, employee safety and health protection, a natural part of its business. ArcelorMittal Ostrava commits itself to
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