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Home / case studies / Case study: How Vale reduces its particulate matter and SOx emissions

Case study: How Vale reduces its particulate matter and SOx emissions

Vale S.A. is a global leader in iron ore and iron ore and nickel pellets operating in 27 countries on five continents, producing manganese, iron-alloys, copper, platinum group metals (PGMs), gold, silver, cobalt, and metallurgical and thermal coal. Vale seeks to continuously improve operational processes and adopt new technologies, so as to reduce emissions from stationary sources and improve air quality indicators.

This case study is based on the 2018 Sustainability Report by Vale published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Vale works to reduce diffuse emissions in its operating units  Tweet This! by adopting measures such as improving sprinkler systems and using dust suppressor products, also maintaining air quality monitoring stations in the vicinity of operating units. In order to reduce its particulate matter and SOx emissions Vale took action to:
  • develop and patent a biodegradable dust suppressor product
  • sign a new Environmental Commitment Term
  • complete the Clean AER Project

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Vale identified a range of material issues, such as labour health and safety, impacts on and investments in the local community, water resources and effluents, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Among these, reducing its particulate matter and SOx emissions stands out as a key material issue for Vale.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Vale engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Shareholders, debenture holders and investors

 

 

·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·       www.vale.com Portal

·      Visits to operations

·      E-mail

·      Telephone

·      Ombudsman

·      Investor relations department at www.vale.com

·      App for Ipad – Vale Investors & Media – App Store

·      Conference call

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

·      Pressroom

Clients

 

 

 

·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·      www.vale.com Portal

·      Visits to operations

·      Ombudsman

·      Satisfaction surveys

·      Contact us

·      Structured meetings and collaboration workshops

·      Conference call

·      Telephones and e-mails

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

Employees

 

 

·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·      www.vale.com Portal

·      Ombudsman

·      Contact us

·      Electronics newsletters of communication with employees

·      Intranet

·      Global Employee Survey

·      Communication Committee

·      Social Networks

·      Structured meetings and collaboration workshops

·      Conference call

·      Telephones and e-mails

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

·      Press Interview

·      Conversation circles

Suppliers

 

 

·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·      www.vale.com Portal

·      Visits to operations

·      Ombudsman

·      Satisfaction surveys

·      Contact us

·      Social Networks

·      Structured meetings and collaboration workshops

·      Vale Supplier Portal (Nimbi platform)

·      Vale Procurement Global Services

·      Conference call

·      Telephones and e-mails

·      Supplier area on www.vale.com

·      Public hearings

·      Contact with Community Relations team

·      Contact with other areas

·      Participation in associations and entities

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

·      Press Interview

·      Webcast

·      Conversation circles

Communities

 

 

·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·      www.vale.com Portal

·      Visits to operations

·      Ombudsman

·      Contact us

·      Social Networks

·      Structured meetings and collaboration workshops

·      Telephones and e-mails

·      Committees for communication inter-change

·      Socio-economic diagnoses

·      Public hearings

·      Social dialogue process

·      Leadership Meeting Programme

·      External disclosures – News

·      Alô Ferrovias (railway hotline)

·      Contact with Community Relations team

·      Participation in associations and entities

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

·      Webcast

·      Conversation circles

Government & civil society ·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·      www.vale.com Portal

·      Visits to operations

·      Ombudsman

·      Structured meetings and collaboration workshops

·      Vale Supplier Portal (Nimbi platform)

·      Conference call

·      Telephones and e-mails

·      Socio-economic diagnoses

·      Public hearings

·      Leadership Meeting Programme

·      External disclosures – News

·      Contact with Community Relations team

·      Participation in associations and entities

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

·      Press Interview

Press

 

·      20-F Report, press releases, call notices and AGM/EGM meeting minutes, quarterly reports, reference forms

·      www.vale.com Portal

·      Visits to operations

·      Ombudsman

·      App for Ipad – Vale Investors & Media – App Store

·      Structured meetings and collaboration workshops

·      Vale Supplier Portal (Nimbi platform)

·      Conference call

·      Telephones and e-mails

·      Participation at conferences, forums and debates

·      Press Interview

·      Pressroom

·      Webcast

·      Visits to the newsroom

·      Conversation circles

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Vale carried out a series of consultations with internal and external stakeholders – clients, suppliers, representatives from government and national and international entities, academics, class and community associations, NGOs, journalists, shareholders, and employees – through online surveys and face-to-face and telephone interviews.

What actions were taken by Vale to reduce its particulate matter and SOx emissions?

In its 2018 Sustainability Report Vale reports that it took the following actions for reducing its particulate matter and SOx emissions:

  • Developing and patenting a biodegradable dust suppressor product
  • In 2018, in partnership with the Espírito Santo Federal University (UFES in Portuguese), Vale developed and patented a biodegradable dust suppressor product. This resin is produced by chemically recycling PET-based waste and has a characteristic sealant that maintains moisture in stockpiled material, railroad wagons and unpaved roads. The product has already been laboratory-tested under adverse conditions and field-tested to validate its efficiency and quality assurance. This initiative and technology will help Vale reduce its particulate matter emissions, improving air quality in surrounding communities and, in addition to the environmental benefits, there is the social gain of involving associations of local collectors to foment plastic waste recycling, making businesses more sustainable.
  • Signing a new Environmental Commitment Term
  • In 2018 Vale signed a new Environmental Commitment Term (TCA in Portuguese) to reduce particulate matter emissions at the Tubarão operational unit in Vitória, Espírito Santo. The Term signature involved the Federal Public Ministry, State Public Ministry, State Secretariat for the Environment and State Environmental Institute and aimed to ensure transparency in implementing all initiatives presented by the Environmental Master Plan. The Environmental Master Plan consists of implementing actions and projects to reduce particulate matter emissions and improve the unit’s water management. Highlights of the controls include applying cellulose-based products in ore piles, implementing new wind fences, adjusting approximately 40 km of conveyor belts, and installing fog cannons in pellet yards. The expectation is that, by the year 2023 when Vale completes the implementation of all these measures, diffuse emissions will be reduced by up to 93%. Vale’s investments total US$ 348 million, currently the largest contribution Vale has made toward environmental stewardship.
  • Completing the Clean AER Project
  • At its Sudbury unit in Canada Vale completed the Clean AER Project, in which a total of US$ 1 billion has been invested since 2012. The project reduced 85% of SOx (Sulfur oxides) emissions from the foundry at Copper Cliff and greenhouse gas emissions from Vale’s smelter by 40%. These emission reductions reflect Vale’s position to provide resources to improve controls and environmental management to help recover the local landscape. The Clean AER Project has reduced emissions so significantly, that there is no need to continue using the existing large iconic chimney known as the Superstack, which has been replaced by two smaller, more efficient chimneys. With this adjustment, natural gas consumption is expected to decrease by approximately 50%. The Clean AER Project also involves installing new converters at the smelter, a new wet gas treatment plant and a new ventilation and bag filter system, which will cut particulate emissions from metals by approximately 40%. Vale also maintains a policy of improving its operational processes and control systems and increasing productivity, aiming to adopt fuels with lower sulfur contents, reducing SOx emissions by 60% compared to 2016.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 305-7 Nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulfur oxides (SOX), and other significant air emissions

Disclosure 305-7 Nitrogen oxides (NOX), sulfur oxides (SOX), and other significant air emissions corresponds to:

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Vale, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Vale: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.