As a global steel maker, Essar has always been conscious of its responsibility to, and potential for, reducing the overall environmental impact of its activities. Thus, the Essar Steel Hazira facility, committed to becoming the most water-efficient steel manufacturer in India, is focused on reducing its water consumption per ton of crude steel; rainwater harvesting is also an important part of its operations.
The Hazira plant has five rainwater harvesting facilities which help it to contain rainwater. Situated as it is on the coast, the Hazira plant is restricted from discharging its conserved rainwater into the water table because of the already high groundwater levels.
Previously, rainwater collected in the catchment areas used to be pumped into River Tapti; today, the pump discharge unit of the town of Variav is connected to the main header of the raw water pipeline, and the rain water is discharged into the town’s incoming raw water pipeline.
The Cold Rolling Mill (CRM) at Hazira has a coffee shop reservoir, and from FY 2008 onwards, the conserved rainwater has been reused in the CRM. In FY 2010, the use of conserved rainwater resulted in a savings of approximately USD74,914.
Apart from these visible benefits to the company, rainwater conservation helps save precious water resources and by reducing the withdrawal of fresh water from the rivers prevents its depletion.
Essar Steel uses large amounts of water for cooling in its hot briquetted iron (HBI) plant, at its manufacturing complex at Hazira. As part of its environmental sustainability measures, the facility looked for ways to minimize water use. It also studied ways to minimize the impact of the discharge of its power plant, which was discharging about 20,000 m3 of highly alkaline effluents into the sea daily, posing a pollution risk to the environment.
Essar engineers were given the task of finding out whether some of the water used for cooling the HBI could be replaced with treated effluent. They discovered that, with slight modifications to the water treatment program, the treated effluent could replace freshwater for cooling. A pipe was laid to bring the treated effluent into a sump at the HBI plant, and a pump installed, to distribute the effluent into the HBI water system.
The use of treated effluent for cooling purposes has had three consequences:
- It helped to substantially reduce the amount of freshwater used in the HBI plant.
- It helped reduce the quantity of effluents discharged into the sea, thus reducing the environmental impact.
- It lowered the total cost of water used by the power plant by USD380,000 over a period of three years.
This not only reduced the environmental impact of disposing the sludge, but also reduced the cost of fresh raw material for the sinter plant. This has helped the plant save USD15,700 per month in raw material costs and USD15,200 annually in disposal costs. In FY2010-2011, the Essar Steel Hazira plant also reduced the generation of wastewater by 36.93 per cent.
Using their ‘reduce, recycle, reuse’ mantra, Essar Steel has been able to meet global standards in water usage of 2.06 m3 per ton of crude steel. Apart from these measures, the company also instituted a water policy and formed a ‘water cell’ of executives who conduct water audits, including a daily review of consumption. By sharing their learning on water management not only with other companies in Essar, but also with their peers in the industry — like the Steel Authority of India and Tata Steel — Essar Steel is reaffirming its commitment to the company’s sustainability initiative.
Sustainable development is an integral part of Essar’s business model and each of its businesses has a specific strategy that suits the sector and the geography. Expectedly, Essar companies have been consistently honored for their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint, their water conservation measures and concern for environmental impact.
Also read: Making every drop count