Posts Tagged ‘United States’

Carbon reduction initiatives spur debate

SBB 25 April  The merits of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System and other carbon reduction initiatives generated a spirited debate during Platts Steel Business Briefing’s third-annual Green Steel Strategies conference in Berlin.

A panel including; Steve Rowlan, Nucor’s gm of environmental affairs; Baroness Worthington, a member of British Parliament and founder of Sandbag; Christopher Beauman, senior adviser to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; and Mike Romano, vp of strategic accounts for NALCO; discussed the challenges of operating under current and proposed mandates.

Worthington argued a number of European steelmakers are “sitting on a large set of allowances” under the EU’s carbon trading scheme, as emissions have been below previous estimates.

Some say that’s simply due to reduced steel production amid the recessionary economic climate, and when one panelist questioned whether steel producers believe in the initiative, Worthington fired back: “It’s not whether you believe in it or not. It’s not a ghost or God. It’s actually a functioning policy that’s in place right now to bring carbon [emissions} down.”

Many involved in European carbon trading argue there should be intervention to prop up the sagging carbon price (a result of surplus emissions), such as a set-aside of allowances, as low prices do nothing to spur investment into new technology.

European steelmakers have told Platts SBB there should be no “manipulation” of the market, which is just designed to cut emissions.

Rowlan said cap-and-trade initiatives like those in place in Europe and being considered in the US put steelmakers at a cost disadvantage to competitors in regions without such policies. “To an industry that wants to be competitive, it is all about cost,” he said. “How does the steel industry survive?”

Beauman conceded higher costs “are inevitable” in the effort to reduce global CO2. “The question is at what spread and at what fairness?” he said.

Still, Romano said unproven and costly technologies like carbon sequestration aren’t the answer in the near term. “The technologies aren’t coming to the forefront in the next five years,” he said.

SMA recognizes innovation, sustainability and safety efforts

SBB 16 May The Steel Manufacturers Association recognized a number of companies and individuals Tuesday at its annual members conference in Washington, DC, highlighting achievements in US minimill steelmaking innovations, safety, environmental stewardship and community involvement.

SMA chairman and Nucor president John Ferriola presented the 2012 SMA Achievement in Innovation award to CMC Steel Arizona for CMC’s partnership with Danieli Corp to build the first continuous cast/roll/cut-to-length micro mill, which enables cost-effective steel production at smaller steelmaking facilities.

The Don Daily SMA Achievement in Safety award was given to CMC Steel South Carolina and SSAB Alabama for what the SMA called their “leading role in promoting safety improvements in the EAF steel industry.”

SSAB Alabama and Keystone Steel & Wire received the 2012 SMA Achievement in Environmental Stewardship and Recycling award for their extensive recycling programs that promote the principle of sustainability. SMA’s member companies account for over 75 percent of total US steel capacity, and utilize a feedstock almost entirely composed of recycled scrap metal.

The 2012 SMA Achievement in Community Involvement Award was presented to Evraz Pueblo, CMC Steel Alabama, Nucor Decatur and Nucor Tuscaloosa. Evraz Pueblo was recognized for assisting veterans, who comprise a quarter of the facility’s workforce, with re-entering civilian life and finding employment within the steel industry. CMC Steel Alabama was recognized for relief provided to the Birmingham community following tornadoes there in April 2011. Nucor Steel Decatur and Tuscaloosa were also recognized for April 2011 tornado relief efforts.

Mittal: Level playing field needed for carbon regs

Although climate changeis a global issue, the failure to negotiate an international treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol has forced countries and regions to implement their own climate strategies individually.Steelmakers with European facilities complain that they are bearing the brunt of climate regulation, and that this puts them at a disadvantage. Recent developments in Australia are unlikely to assuage their concerns. It is only when the major steelmaking countries, especially China, begin to set a firm price for carbon emissions that the playing field will become more level.

SBB 22 June The global steel industry must do its part to reduce carbon emissions, but there “should be a level playing field,” believes Lakshmi Mittal, ceo of ArcelorMittal.

“The pressure on companies to reduce their CO2 emissions only looks set to intensify,” he predicted.

But Mittal said it doesn’t make sense for Europe to set carbon emissions standards when other parts of the world have not. This will only make production in Europe more expensive and increase it in other countries, he stated.

Additionally, Mittal said, the industry must help regulators understand that while each tonne of steel produced makes about two tonnes of CO2 – that drops over the steel’s lifetime to 0.7 t (per tonne of steel produced) because of steel’s recyclability.

“The steel industry needs to play it smart in heping to reduce CO2 emissions … but equally we need a balanced approach. Climate change is a global issue,” he told listeners.

He added, “We need to work harder to make sure the benefits of steel are understood and factored into wholistic regulatory frameworks.”

He was speaking at the Steel Success Strategies Conference in New York in June sponsored by World Steel Dynamics and American Metal Market; Steel Business Briefing was in attendance.

State blocks Brazil slab project for pollution control

As Europe presses ahead with its emissions trading system European steelmakers will face costs not faced elsewhere. The industry warns this could lead to steel production moving out of Europe. However, the costs of moving to other areas can be higher than expected, including costs related to environemental regulations.

SBB 12 May Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state has blocked the expansion of Companhia Siderúrgica do Atlântico (CSA) – the Vale-ThyssenKrupp joint venture slab mill – until it finishes covering a pit used to hold hot metal, coal and gases in an emergency.

According to state environment secretary Carlos Minc, CSA has one month to fix its pollution control systems. “Until the work is complete, the construction of a third coking coal unit will continue to be stopped,” he says in a statement, noting that CSA does not hold a final operating license. “If our requirements are not complied with, the company will stop operating.”

In addition, Minc says work on the pit will prevent, in the event of future accidents, a “silvery” cloud – 70% carbon and 30% iron – from being released into the atmosphere, causing health risks to workers and residents.

CSA tells Steel Business Briefing it delivered yesterday – two days before the deadline set by the government – a plan to improve the pit. “The company is prepared to immediately start working as soon as the authorities approve the project,” CSA adds.

Regarding the announcement of the work embargo, CSA states it has not been officially notified of this decision and is in contact with the environmental authorities to better understand the objectives.

SBB observes that CSA, which has been operating for 10 months, has been fined twice by the state for air pollution – in August for R$1.2m (US$739,805) and in January for R$16.8m.

BlueScope hits back at Canberra carbon tax claims

The move by the Australian government to introduce a carbon tax, to be followed by an emissions trading scheme, has been met by even more vociferous opposition from steelmakers than Europe’s ETS. As this article suggests, the actual costs remain unclear.

SBB 3 May BlueScope Steel has rejected claims from Australian federal treasurer Wayne Swan that Canberra’s proposed carbon tax would only add an extra A$2.60 (US$2.70) to the cost of a tonne of steel.

Swan said at the weekend that a carbon tax would have around 1/20th of the impact on the price of steel that Australia’s soaring dollar was having. He noted that the Australian dollar – which briefly passed the A$1.10 versus the US dollar barrier on Monday – had cut Australian steelmakers’ earnings by A$50/t in 2011.

Movements in the dollar “have a far greater impact on these industries than a potential carbon price,” Swan said.

But the country’s largest steel producer accused Swan of trivialising the impact a carbon tax would have on its business, with chief executive Paul O’Malley calling the “latest attack” on Australia’s steel industry “simply unacceptable.” He said the total estimated cumulative cost to BlueScope over the first eight years of the scheme – due to begin in 2012 – would be between A$500m and A$1bn.

“It is nothing like the incorrect A$2.60 per tonne of steel which is based on very selective use of data that counts only part of the cost, in only the first year,” said O’Malley on Monday. “According to the government’s own data, in the first year alone the cost could be up to $39m,” he said.

BlueScope has been reeling from soaring raw materials costs, the high A$, a flat domestic construction sector and import competition, Steel Business Briefing notes.

Financing available for CO2 technologies, EU execs say

One of the most important themes to emerge from SBB’s Green Steel Strategies conference was that the steel industry is not communicating its progress on environmental issues effectively. This could also be holding back investments as the industry is not properly communicating with providers of state funding, some suggest.

SBB 7 April While economics can make it difficult to implement the breakthrough technologies necessary to reduce steelmakers’ carbon emissions, a panel of financial executives said yesterday options are available to help fund them.

“I think the steel industry in Europe needs to raise its game in competing for funding, for political attention,” Christopher Beauman, senior adviser to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told attendees at Steel Business Briefing’s Green Steel Strategies conference in Brussels. “Only through communication will you get access to bankers, and also to political support.”

Unproven but promising technologies such as the Ultra-low CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme, carbon sequestration and high-strength lightweight steel production are expensive. But Beauman and his fellow panelists said steelmakers don’t have to go it alone.

Alan Haigh of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, an organization that helps finance technologically innovative pilot projects undertaken by companies based in European Union member states – as well as their operations abroad – said his organization has an annual budget of €55m (US$78m).

“This is a fund that provides research funding to support the competitiveness of European steel, and it’s available year-on-year,” Haigh said.

He pointed to ongoing European ULCOS pilot projects aimed at minimizing steelmaking’s environmental footprint. “It’s clearly one of our flagship projects,” he said.

Michael Van Hoey, a principal at McKinsey & Co, said, “Historically, the steel industry actually has not received its fair share of funding,” unlike the power and chemical industries. “Be a little bit more proactive,” he said.

Firm aims to debut carbonite as greener fuel

Even in the USA, where greenhouse gas regulation is less strict than in Europe, there are commercial advantages to developing greener products.

SBB 29 March A US company known as Carbonite Corp will construct a $20m plant this year that will produce carbonite and coke near Norton, Virginia, Steel Business Briefing understands.

According to process pioneer Richard Wolfe, carbonite – an interim step between coal and coke – is cleaner to produce.

“It’s certainly going to be more environmentally acceptable to build this plant,” Wolfe said. “And the products will be more environmentally clean.”

From a regulatory standpoint, the plant would be classified as a coal conversion plant, rather than a coke oven battery, and therefore easier to permit, Wolfe said.

The plant’s capacity will be 50,000 short tons annually, Wolfe told SBB, with some of its products for use in foundry applications and others in steelmaking.

According to US government data and the American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute, 16.1m s.t of coke were produced domestically last year, the vast majority of which was used for steelmaking. Just over 1.1m s.t of coke were imported in 2010.