Water: a step change in consumption

Fresh water consumption - Megalitres


Fresh water intensity - Kilolitres/tonne raw steel

The manufacture of iron and steel involves intense heat.  As a result, large amounts of water are used for quenching, and cooling of products and machinery.  Water is also used for de-scaling, cleaning, and suppression of dust.

At our largest global production facility, Port Kembla Steelworks in New South Wales, most of the water consumed is salt water.  Consumption of salt water from the nearby harbour and ocean relieves pressure on finite supplies of fresh water.

Nevertheless, traditionally BlueScope Steel’s major production facilities have also been significant consumers of fresh water – much of it sourced from local drinking water supplies.

In many of the communities in which we operate, especially in Australia, water shortages and water quality are significant issues.

In recent years, our Port Kembla and Western Port plants have implemented a range of water savings projects, which have seen a gradual reduction in fresh water intensity (kilolitres per tonne of raw steel manufactured).  These projects have seen fresh water intensity reduced from 3.7 kilolitres per tonne in financial year (FY) 2003, to 2.6 kilolitres per tonne in FY2007.

In addition to these projects, in September 2006 an industry-leading recycled water project was commissioned at Port Kembla Steelworks, in partnership with Sydney Water.  This project recycles wastewater from across the Illawarra region, and treats it for re-use in BlueScope Steel’s manufacturing operations.

Port Kembla Steelworks now receives up to 20 mega litres (million litres) per day of treated wastewater for use in its manufacturing processes. Thes Steelworks has now used over four billion litres of recycled water.

The Port Kembla water-recycling project has seen a step change in both fresh water intensity and consumption.  Fresh water use fell from 22,351 mega litres in FY2006, to 18,178 mega litres in FY2007.  Fresh water consumption is expected to fall further in the current financial year, as the Steelworks receives the benefit of a full year of recycled water.

The Port Kembla water recycling is now being followed by a similar project at Western Port.  This project – a partnership between BlueScope Steel, South East Water and the Victorian Government – will see fresh water consumption at Western Port cut by over 60 per cent per year.  This project is expected to be commissioned in 2009.

BlueScope Water

The Company’s own water savings credentials are complemented by the products and services provided by its BlueScope Water business.  BlueScope Water serves the growing Australian and international markets for rainwater tanks, complete rainwater harvesting systems, and agricultural irrigation pipelines.

BlueScope Water provides a complete design, manufacture and install solution for urban rainwater harvesting.

The business has manufacturing and retail operations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

The Nature Conservancy

BlueScope Steel is a member of The Nature Conservancy, a leading international conservation organisation working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.

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