Mechel Informs of Ecological Programs in Chelyabinsk

Ecological measures undertaken at Mechel’s Chelyabinsk facilities were highlighted at a strategic session held as part of the national ecological Clean Air award.

The award, established by Russia’s Ecological Movement and Komsomolskaya Pravda media group, goes to companies, public organizations and regions judged most successful in implementing technologies that reduce waste emissions. The jury is currently examining applications and is due to publish the results in December.

This strategic session focused on Chelyabinsk, which is one of Russia’s 12 city participants in the federal Clean Air project. Sergei Khoroshayev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Ecological Movement, acted as moderator of the session that featured Chelyabinsk Region’s Ecology Minister Sergei Likhachev, head of Mechel PAO’s ecology and environment protection department Oleg Dolmatov, Clean Country public group’s president Alexander Chekshin, and Natalya Khudyakova, head of macroeconomic and regional analysis and forecast department at Rosselkhozbank.

Oleg Dolmatov reported on the progress of projects that Mechel is implementing at its Chelyabinsk facilities (Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant, Mechel-Coke et al.) and which were part of ecological accords with the authorities and the federal Clean Air program. By 2024, Mechel will invest a total of 14.5 billion rubles into its Chelyabinsk-based environment protection projects. Once the projects are complete, waste emissions will go down by 15,000 tonnes a year.

Mechel’s representative listed the equipment modernization projects already in place at Chelyabinsk Metallurgical Plant. In 2020, the plant replaced its converter #1 and assembled a modern three-stage gas cleansing system, which enabled the facility to reduce its waste emissions by a third. The plant also overhauled its blast furnace #4, with a new aspiration system currently under construction at this furnace’s casthouse. In 2021, the plant overhauled its continuous heating furnace #3.

Mechel-Coke also undergoes modernization. The facility has completed the revamping of its benzene unit, installing closed-cycle cooling of its process water without contact with air. This completely eliminates emissions of benzene, phenol, naphthalene and hydrogen sulphide. The facility also revamped its coke battery #8, upgrading its gas offtake and smoke-free coal inflow system, which enabled Mechel-Coke to dramatically reduce waste emissions.

Mechel’s investment into its Chelyabinsk facilities’ ecological program have already totaled some five billion rubles. Once successfully complete, by 2024 implementation of the projects will enable the group to meet the national project’s goals.

Oleg Dolmatov also responded to questions about the facilities’ transparency for public. “Ecological activists are keen on dialogue, and to address that need we offer opportunities for direct contact. We began with presenting the results of our Chelyabinsk facilities’ ecological audit conducted by Atmosphera Institute at public hearings. We honestly revealed what problems we have and how we plan to address them. After that we went further by launching the Ecoengineering ecological forum in 2019, which included several venues for discussing Chelyabinsk public’s concerns. Since then, we conduct this forum annually. Thanks to this communication, we understood that Chelyabinsk’s residents are very active, they are ready to offer ecological initiatives of their own. Those are small projects that can be implemented by one person or a small group of persons, but they do require financial support. This led us to launch an annual ECO Projector grant. We have other projects as well that help us connect ever closer with the local community, such as traditional subbotniks aimed at improving yards and residential public spaces, joint tree plantings and other things,” Dolmatov noted.

“Speaking of control over the city’s atmosphere, we do a lot in this direction. Chelyabinsk has set up a data center connected to air control monitors that automatically feed reports of any kind of pollution into a data storage for further analysis and administrative response. We are bringing industrialists, including Mechel, into this system. The company is currently acquiring small-scale emissions detectors that will be installed on the sanitary buffer zone’s borders. We work together with the company very closely and efficiently,” Chelyabinsk Region’s Ecology Minister Sergei Likhachev noted.