Outokumpu production facilities are not located in sensitive areas such as Unesco World Heritage sites, Ramsar sites or Unesco biosphere reserves. During recent decades, Group sites have not been found to disturb local biodiversity in any manner that is generally considered unacceptable. None of the species included in the International Union for the Conservation of the Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List (a list which identifies and documents species most in need of conservation attention if global extinction rates are to be reduced) are known to be affected by Outokumpu’s activities.
However, Outokumpu has identified protected areas or areas of high biodiversity value that are owned by company or adjacent to our operational sites or where our operations impact on this type of area or biodiversity has been assessed. These are the Outokumpu sites:
- Dahlerbrück thin-strip cold-rolling site in Germany
- Kemi mine in Finland
- Tornio operations in Finland
- Calvert, AL production site in the US
Total size of thin-strip coldrolling site in Dahlerbrück is 0.063 km2 and the total property 0.3 km². There is a 0.22 km² overlapping area protected by the German Federal Nature Conservation Act and implementing the EU Natura legislation.
This is the only Outokumpu site in which a 0.042 km² protected area is partly located on the company’s property. According to the EU Natura legislation, there are e.g. endangered deciduous forests and natural silicate rock biotype with some endangered animal habitats and plant species such as crinkled hairgrass and ferns.
The total land property of Kemi mine is 9.16 km2, and this underground chrome mine is adjacent to two EU Natura protected peat and wetland areas. The mine area consists mainly of old barren rock and tailing sand storage areas, the operational area and water recycling ponds. Protected peatland areas to protect typical northern wet vegetation, habitats and biodiversity are located on the property border in the northwest (common border: 500 meters) and in the east (1 km). However, there is no indication, claim or report of any negative impact of mining activities on biodiversity. The only major impact on the east side peatland (Kirvesaapa) would be the lower ground and surface water level in the mine – but this effect is prevented by a permanent dam in the ditch running from the peatland to the mine site.
Internal biodiversity is also managed at the Kemi chrome mine. All old tailing sand areas are landscaped and are now, more or less, forests. A new landscaping plan for a 22.5-hectare tailing sand pond will be prepared in an ecologically efficient way. Barren rock extracted during the former open pit period is now being utilized and intermediate rock-storage locations are being used in underground construction and for galleryfilling operations. In the long term, this will ensure that the site will be returned to as natural a state as is technically feasible.
At the mine site another water pond is used for recycling of process water. Only 5% of the total amount of water used in the mine processes is from outside the mine area, and the rest, 95%, is recycled water from tailings and sedimentation ponds inside the mining area. In practice, these water ponds are nesting or feeding habitats for waterfowl, birds and wildlife. This increases the biodiversity significantly in the region. In addition to different bird species, for instance elks, reindeer, foxes, lynxes, eagles and ospreys can be regularly seen inside the mine area. The Kemi mine cooperates with the local ornithological society to monitor the local biodiversity.
Tornio's integrated ferrochrome and stainless steel plant are located in the land property 6 km2 in Northern Finland. Outokumpu’s Tornio site pumps all the fresh water it uses from the Tornionjoki river estuary on the northern coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, part of the Baltic Sea. The river is protected according to the EU Natura legislation. it is the biggest river in a natural condition in the EU and includes biodiversity values like salmon fish species. However, according to long-term and independent monitoring, Outokumpu’s water use since the 1960s has not caused any harmful effects on the river or local biodiversity in the estuary.
Another identified and potential impact might be that of wastewater from the Tornio works on the biodiversity of the Bothnian Bay National Park ecosystems, located 5 km south in an archipelago protected by the EU Natura legislation. The main discharges into recipient water from the Tornio works are metals and nitrates.
Many studies and annual monitoring of the biological, physical and chemical conditions which prevail near the Tornio site have been carried out since the 1970s. The results of the latest water quality and biological marine ecosystems monitoring confirmed that fish populations were healthy and the levels of metals (Cr, Ni and Zn) were very low and that they do not accumulate in marine food chains. Also, even very sensitive species of bottom fauna were found in the vicinity of the site.
Annually, almost twenty professional fishermen are working close to the Tornio works and catch around 50 tonnes of fish. The effluent from the Tornio site has not deteriorated the reproductive capability of the fish either. Also, the latest research report concerning the impact of nitrates on recipient water at the Tornio site showed that the impacts are restricted to the immediate proximity of the discharge points at Tornio and cause only slight eutrophication. In practice, the wastewater is conducted first to the sedimentation pond, in which diverse fish fauna exist. This and non-toxic wastewater from the Tornio works was verified also in summer 2015 in test net fishing from this sedimentation pond. All these facts confirm that water use or run-off from the Tornio works do not cause any risk to local biodiversity. Outokumpu is also participating in the public Baltic Sea Challenge in order to improve the condition of the sea.
Adjacent to the Tornio works is also a third EU Natura area located 1 km to the northeast. Alkunkarinlahti is an important bird nesting habitat including birdwatching towers. However, reports and statements issued by the environmental authorities indicate that Outokumpu’s activities do not have a negative impact or threaten biodiversity in this area.
Calvert, Alabama, US
Calvert, Alabama, US covers 4.69 km2. There are no legally binding biodiversity requirement at the Calvert integrated stainless steel plant, but some 80 hectares of the property is defined as wetland including some restrictions on land use. The site management has identified as a biodiversity aspect that part of the wetland area is home to quite a wide array of wildlife, like wild turkeys, wild bears, fox squirrels, gopher tortoises and snakes, among other species. Since the gopher tortoise and Alabama black bear are threatened species, the Calvert environmental team has worked with regulators on a voluntary basis to help trap and move gopher tortoises to safe locations and we even installed a “bear-friendly” fence to allow the Alabama black bear to better travel through its natural migratory pathways.