Minimising our impact and beyond
Environmental considerations and commitments underpin all our managerial and production decisions. We are aware of the environmental impact of our operations and the environmental risks inherent in coal mining, washing and shipment. We are also aware of our responsibility to help protect and preserve the environment for present and future generations.
Leadership in the field of environmental protection, the mitigation of environmental risks associated with production operations, and the delivery of conservation projects are an integral part of SUEK’s sustainable development strategy. Our environmental protection programmes include measures to reduce emissions, protect water resources, process and dispose of waste, reclaim land and achieve energy efficiency. These initiatives contribute to the sustainable development of the regions where we operate, improve the quality of people’s lives, help us reduce operational risks and enhance our overall performance. In addition, we participate in international and Russian projects aimed at the prevention of climate change and biodiversity conservation. Among other initiatives, these include the Clean Coal Association, the Russian National Carbon Agreement, the Bureau of Best Available Technologies technical working group, and the Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation within Russia’s Energy Sector Policies and Operations project.
Our approach to environmental safety is enshrined in SUEK’s Environmental Policy. This document defines our principles, commitments and mechanisms for implementation in the field of environmental protection. It provides the foundation for the development and delivery of all our environmental programmes and initiatives. The company also adheres to its Compliance Policy, Russian and international law and the precautionary principle as an approach to environmental risk reduction.
In order to assess and predict the company’s environmental risks and develop measures to manage them, we cooperate with research organisations, and specialised working groups and panels.
In 2017, SUEK adopted a new environmental strategy which will help to ensure our continued full compliance with environmental legislation. The key principle of the new policy is to minimise our impact on the environment by reducing emissions of harmful substances and maximising the recycling of waste across all production cycles. For more details, see ‘Strategy in Action’ on Strategy implementation page.
At our facilities in Khakasia, Krasnoyarsk and Kemerovo, we have an environmental management system in place that meets the requirements of the ISO 14001:2004 international standard. Our sites regularly undergo independent external audits to assess their management systems against these standards. In 2017, SUEK’s facilities in Krasnoyarsk were certified, while the facilities in Khakasia and Kemerovo were recertified for compliance with these standards.
We also provide training so our employees can enhance their environmental knowledge and qualifications. We collaborate with research bodies and expert organisations to introduce innovative and efficient environmental safety technologies. In addition, we regularly publish information relating to the results of our sustainable development projects. In 2017, SUEK invested $28m in environmental activities. For more details, see our CSR Report 2016-2017.
In 2017, our environmental projects won a number of awards:
- ‘Environmental Responsibility Mark’ for implementing a large-scale modernisation programme and introducing energy-saving technologies;
- Top ten company in the WWF environmental responsibility rating of mining companies;
- EraEco award (with support from UNIDO – United Nations Industrial Development, and the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation) for the photo project ‘Pristine Russia’;
- The All-Russia MediaTEK Award: First place in the ‘Delivery of Projects Related to Social and Environmental Activities of Fuel and Energy Companies and Their Effective Coverage in the Media’ category. Plus certificate and award in the ‘Active Corporate Environmental Policy in the Year of Ecology’ category.
In order to improve mine safety, we regularly conduct mine gas drainage. This process results in methane (natural gas) emissions, which account for over 85% of SUEK’s total air emissions.
In all our mining areas, wherever methane content exceeds 10 m3/tonne of coal, we carry out comprehensive gas drainage. This includes the removal of gas from working coal seams prior to mining, and the extraction of gas from mined-out areas. It is achieved via holes drilled from the surface and holes drilled from the mine openings.
In 2017, as part of our commitment to reducing our environmental impact in support of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we continued to utilise captured methane for power generation and boiler combustion, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the air. Our Kirova and Komsomolets mines are equipped with recovery systems and engine plants that capture gas and use it to generate heat and electricity. In 2017, we utilised 7.49 million m3 of methane captured from mined-out areas.
The rest of our air emissions relate to CO, NOx and SO₂, which are below the limits prescribed by Russian legislation.
Additionally, we work to decrease dust emissions across the whole production and transportation cycle from mine to port. We use state-of-the-art technology for the vacuum collection, transportation and discharge of fine coal dust at our washing plants in Khakasia, Buryatia and Vanino Bulk Terminal. In 2017, at Vanino Bulk Terminal, we equipped coal storage areas with a dust suppression system that can be controlled remotely. We also upgraded the terminal’s dust suppression system in the railcar car tipper station, and procured a dust suppression system for the stacker-reclaimer when operating at low temperatures. Meanwhile, at our Murmansk Commercial Seaport, we introduced new dust suppression technology for the conveyors, and began work on environmental dispatching control, including the establishment of a network of control stations for monitoring air and noise levels at the border of the buffer zone, port and load platforms. We also purchased two high-tech vacuum loaders and opened new treatment facilities.
Most of the wastewater used by the company during the production cycle is natural water (with characteristics typical of local groundwater) that is pumped out of mining areas during operations. The company does not withdraw water from vulnerable or state-protected sources, or from sources that are especially valuable for local communities or for biodiversity.
SUEK production sites are equipped with facilities for treating industrial wastewater and sewage. Through our continuous pollution-control and resource conservation efforts, in 2017 the levels of suspended and dissolved solids in our wastewater decreased.
In 2017, we continued to design and construct advanced treatment facilities for mine, open-pit and household wastewater, and we overhauled existing water supply and sewage systems. These efforts should further reduce the concentration of wastewater solids at a number of our facilities. In 2017, SUEK commissioned treatment facilities at the Taldinskaya-Zapadnaya 1 mine. In 2016-2017, we built wastewater treatment plants for discharges from the Apsatsky open pit.
Production waste recycling
Production operations are inextricably linked with waste generation, although about 98-99% of the waste we produce is barely hazardous (overburden, etc.). Most of this waste is used in production processes or for reclamation purposes. The small remaining part of waste requires special treatment and is transferred to dedicated organisations for neutralisation (mercury lamps, batteries), utilisation (spent oils, scrap and other materials), and for disposal at landfill sites (municipal waste). In late 2016, we launched a tyre-recycling project in Khakasia, the aim of which is to convert worn dump-truck tyres into new products, such as tiles for injury-free sports coatings, and rubber granules for road surfacing.
As part of the Russian government’s nationwide energy-efficiency initiative, SUEK has developed and implemented an Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Programme. In addition to its economic benefits, this programme enables us to achieve the important environmental objective of reducing our energy consumption, which helps to minimise our overall impact on the environment.
The need to manage the company’s energy efficiency objectives, such as rising electricity costs and meeting state requirements in the field of energy efficiency and environmental safety, stimulates us to do everything we can to improve our energy management.
Adhering to the best development practices, and as part of the nationwide strategy, SUEK successfully works on energy saving and energy efficiency enhancement. Our goal is to reduce the energy intensity of production operations while strictly observing the company’s operating principles: safety and efficiency, stability and development, professionalism and cooperation, and social responsibility.
In order to solve these problems and maintain our organisational and technological leadership in the industry, we have developed an energy efficiency management system in accordance with best international practices. The system meets the requirements of the international ISO 50001 standards ‘Energy Management System’, and the national GOST R ISO 50001-2012 standards ‘Energy Management System’.
In 2017, the company established an Energy Efficiency Monitoring Office, the main purpose of which is to create and maintain a system for managing energy consumption.
With a view to managing energy efficiency, SUEK:
- Controls the process of energy consumption through an operational control system;
- Has developed a plan of action aimed at improving energy efficiency;
- Introduces innovations and best available technologies related to energy efficiency.
As part of our Energy Efficiency Programme, in 2017 we carried out the following activities:
- Modernised our fleet of excavators: 14 new energy-efficient models were put into operation;
- Upgraded excavator control and power supply systems at Nazarovsky and Borodinsky open pits;
- Equipped coal dump trucks with higher-capacity dump bodies produced by our own Chernovsky Central Power Machine Workshops;
- Held a scheduled energy audit in Kuzbass;
- Launched a pilot project for use of liquefied natural gas as fuel for dump trucks;
- Introduced an energy management system in Khabarovsk;
- Equipped our main process equipment with advanced dispatching systems;
- Ensured optimal roadway conditions;
- Finetuned truck engines, increased the load capacity utilisation rate of trucks, reduced their idle runs and hot downtime, and ensured optimal tire pressure;
- Improved the professional skills of dump truck and bulldozer operators;
- Optimised production processes at all sites to boost the operating efficiency of energy-consuming equipment through reduced idle time and route optimisation.
In 2017, electricity consumption per unit of output across the Group decreased by 4% year-on-year, from 3.05 to 2.96 kWh/m³, which illustrates more efficient energy consumption.
We also improved diesel fuel consumption. The consumption of diesel fuel by the largest category of user (dump trucks) decreased by 2% per tonne of coal or rock year-on-year, from 0.218 to 0.213 kg/t.
Land reclamation and biodiversity
None of SUEK’s production sites are situated in protected or natural reserve areas, and no rare or endangered species of animals, plants or fungi have been identified at our operational sites.
Most of the waste generated from coal mining consists of non-hazardous overburden, which is stored in internal and external dumps. This is used for filling sinkholes, backfilling and reclaiming land disturbed by mining operations, in accordance with approved programmes for the use of mineral resources.
We run extensive reclamation projects on land disturbed by SUEK's mining projects, including rock-dump levelling, soil remediation, tree planting and landscaping. In 2017 we rehabilitated 384 ha of land.
We also plant trees not only on disturbed lands, but also in order to maintain the natural landscape. In 2017, the company’s employees planted trees in the city park of Chernogorsk, near Murmansk Commercial Seaport and Vanino Bulk Terminal.
A key focus area is marine flora and fauna in the area around Vanino Bulk Terminal. In 2017, independent research into marine structures was carried out in the bay surrounding the port. The aim of the research was to understand the bay’s environmental conditions and obtain necessary and sufficient data for the adoption of economically, technically and environmentally sound decisions when operating marine facilities.
In order to maintain aquatic biological resources, the company also regularly releases various fish species into local water bodies.
As part of the Year of Ecology in Russia, SUEK sponsored nature reserves in Khakasia, Buryatia and Zabaikalye.