Advancing technology, enhancing environmental safety
We arrange public hearings to present new technology we plan to introduce at any of our production facilities that are subject to state environmental review. We keep our stakeholders informed about any planned projects and the possible impact they might have on the environment. Any suggestions received during public hearings are analysed and, if appropriate, the relevant project documents are adjusted accordingly.
In 2019, we held public hearings on a project for the utilisation of ash and slag, generated when processing waste from our power plants, for construction and land rehabilitation purposes. During the hearing, the local community and municipal authorities had no objections to use these types of materials in construction and land reclamation.
- Improving the environmental safety of our production operations and environmental management system
- Engaging employees in environmental risk mitigation, enhancing our environmental management system and environmental performance
- Pursuing a transparent environmental policy, disclosing environmental reporting, engaging communities and local governments in the preparation, adoption and implementation of environmental protection initiatives
Our regulatory framework
Our strategic environmental priorities are closely linked to the UN SDGs and focus on the sustainable development of the regions where we operate.
The importance of environmental safety is enshrined in SUEK’s Environmental Policy developed in accordance with Russian and international environmental laws and the precautionary principle. Furthermore, our environmental management strategy is set out in the company’s Compliance Regulation of licensed activities and environmental management, and Compliance Policy.
Our corporate environmental safety system covers all operational cycle stages, from coal mining to shipment in ports, along with heat and electricity generation.
SUEK’s coal mining and port facilities in the Republic of Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk and Primorye, Kemerovo and Murmansk regions run environmental management systems that meet the requirements of the ISO 14001 international standards, which is regularly confirmed by external audits. In the future, we plan to certify the company’s remaining production assets for compliance with ISO 14001.
Key areas of SUEK’s environmental activities:
- Development of an integrated environmental management system and an energy management system in accordance with the ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 standards, respectively
- Implementation of programmes to improve environmental safety, including projects for:
- The responsible use of natural resources
- Lower atmospheric pollution
- Wastewater treatment and responsible water consumption
- More efficient recycling of waste and secondary raw materials
- Land rehabilitation
Our environmental safety strategy and initiatives are directly overseen by SUEK’s Board of Directors and Industrial Safety Committee of the Management Board. In 2019, we unified our approach to environmental issues across all of our businesses. To improve the control and quality of our environmental programme, in every segment we have a dedicated department focused on refining the environmental management system and supporting operating activities.
Management are given environmental KPIs. The implementation of environmental programmes is also included in the KPIs for the technical directors of our ports.
Supplier environmental assessment
Compliance with environmental requirements is included as a prerequisite in contracts with organisations that operate at our facilities. We monitor their compliance throughout the entire period of their engagement, with non-compliance leading to contract termination. SUEK is currently developing standard regulation of contractor environmental protection standards, which will be included in all contracts.
In 2018, our mining units were assessed for compliance with the Bettercoal Code. In 2019, we continued to roll out the best practices recognised by Bettercoal experts across our facilities:
- Installation of advanced modular water treatment systems
- Installation of closed water circulation systems
- Increasing of utilization of waste in economic activities
- Land reclamation
We also continued to progress SUEK’s comprehensive energy efficiency programme aimed at reducing energy consumption.
Minimising emissions of SO2, NOx and other pollutants
In coal-fired power generation, controlling the level SO2, NOx and of solid emissions is the main priority when it comes to environmental protection. To improve the environmental situation in the cities where we operate, we use:
- Advanced dust-collecting equipment (electrostatic precipitators, cyclone collectors), which allow us to catch up over 99% of fly ash and other solids
- CHPPs equipped with the above filters, instead of old boiler houses, for supplying heat to local people
- Upgraded equipment and advanced coal burning technologies
- Tall exhaust stacks (over 120 metres on average)
In the reporting year, we replaced electrostatic precipitator at the Biyskaya CHPP.
Thanks to our efforts, emissions from SUEK’s generating facilities are not increasing and are overall significantly lower than the legal maximum limits.
In coal mining, SUEK’s emissions of CO, NOx and SO2 are insignificant and well below the limits set by Russian law. In 2019, specific pollutant emissions per tonne of coal increased due to a cut in production, while gross emissions decreased.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
SUEK recognises the need to address climate change and supports global programmes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The co-generation of heat and electricity at our plants helps us to markedly reduce CO2 emissions per unit of generated energy due to the higher efficiency of the plants. Therefore, one of our main initiatives to reduce GHG emissions is replacing standalone boiler houses with combined heat and power plants.
Replacing boiler houses with co-generated heat enables SUEK to:
- Reduce specific fuel consumption for heat generation by 32%
- Reduce CO2 emissions by about 9 Mt a year compared to separate generation of heat and electricity
One of the most ambitious boiler replacement programmes is now underway in Krasnoyarsk. By 2024, we plan to replace at least 35 boiler houses. At the same time, we reconstruct heat distribution networks to reduce heat loss.
We are also taking additional measures to improve the environmental situation in the city. In 2019, we completed construction of the body for a new stack 275 metres tall at the Krasnoyarskaya CHPP‑1. Stack No. 2 is scheduled for demolition in 2020, after which all boilers will be connected to the new stack. Along with the modernisation of outdated equipment, the installation of new high-performance electrostatic precipitators, the reconstruction of city heat networks, the replacement of boiler houses and the use of smokeless briquettes by private households, this will reduce emissions in Krasnoyarsk by 37%.
Coal mining releases methane, which is pumped out of mines to ensure they are safe for mine workers. As part of measures to reduce our environmental impact and contribute to the Paris Agreement, we work to maximise the utilisation of mine methane, and thereby minimise our total emissions. Our Kirov and Komsomolets mines are equipped with methane recovery systems and gas engine plants that capture gas and use it to generate heat and electricity. In 2019, the company utilised 4 million m3 of methane captured from mined-out areas.
We also plant trees and shrubs to offset CO2 emissions. In 2019, we landscaped the sanitary protection zone around our industrial sites in Chernogorsk and planted trees in its parks and public gardens and also in the cities of Zabaikalye, and the Krasnoyarsk and Kemerovo regions.
We also work to reduce dust emissions across the whole production and transportation cycle, both to improve working conditions for our employees and protect the surrounding areas from dust.
At our open-pit mines, washing and power plants, we use special equipment to reduce the concentration of dust in atmospheric emissions:
- Cleaning machines in Khakassia and Buryatia
- Sprinkling and spraying equipment and fog-generating units at our open-pit mines
- Advanced automated fog-generating equipment turning water into thick fog, which envelops finest dust particles within a range of 50 metres, preventing the spread of dust clouds. In 2019, this equipment was commissioned in the Zabaikalye and Krasnoyarsk open-pit mines
- Telescopic pipes of CHPPs which enclose coal discharged from belt conveyors to the stockpiles located below
All of SUEK’s units carefully monitor the air quality in the sanitary zone using our own environmental laboratories or by engaging third-party accredited laboratories.
At our ports, we have introduced the world’s foremost technologies to minimise SUEK’s environmental impact when handling dusty goods. As part of our large-scale environmental programme, we have installed:
- Dust control system consisting of stationary and mobile units with a ‘winter package’
- Vacuum units
- Automatic spraying of intra-port roads
- Telescopic enclosures on conveyor discharge points
We have continued a project to construct dust and wind shields at all of our ports. We made progress on the necessary design and research work at Vanino Bulk Terminal in the reporting year, while at Maly Port we installed about 100 m of protective shields. The majority of the shields at Murmansk Commercial Seaport were fully installed in 2019 and the whole project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
At the Murmansk and Maly Ports, we replaced the reloading grapples grapples with bigger models, to reduce dust in the areas where coal is handled. At Vanino Bulk Terminal, two shiploaders and a stacker-reclaimer were equipped with dust suppression and spraying systems.
In 2019 we also commissioned the Environmental Dispatching Office at our Murmansk Commercial Seaport, with environmental forecasting functions. We plan to introduce a similar system based on the existing local monitoring system at Vanino Bulk Terminal.
We highly appreciated SUEK’s impressive efforts and achievements in improving energy efficiency. The results of our audit of SUEK’s energy management system, which we conducted to verify compliance with the international ISO 50001 standard, demonstrated the company’s responsible, systematic and purposeful approach to optimising energy consumption and protecting the environment.TÜV AUSTRIA, international certification organisation
SUEK’s energy efficiency programme offers an economic benefit whilst helping us minimise our impact on the environment.
In 2019, SUEK’s Coal Segment was recertified for compliance with the requirements of the ISO 50001 international standards (updated edition of late 2018).The main focus areas of our energy efficiency programme in SUEK’s Coal Segment include:
- The regular development and introduction of energy efficiency goals and action plans
- Control procedures at various levels
- Introducing innovations and best available technologies related to energy efficiency
In 2019, we delivered the following key projects:
- Upgrading a dragline at Tugnuisky using our own switched reluctance electric motors, which brought specific energy consumption down by 46%
- Modernising the dragline control system at Chernogorsky by installing a modern and energy-efficient digital control system for electric drives
- Revamping the main conveyor line at Berezovsky to reduce specific energy consumption by 17%
- Optimising power consumption during planned peak load hours at Izykhsky and Vostochny by regulating the operation of drainage pumps
In 2019, SUEK’s electricity consumption per unit of coal output reduced by 4% across the Group year-on-year.
In the Energy Segment the major contributor to energy saving is our co-generation of electricity and heat, which helps us to save 32% fuel compared to separate generation. The power plants also have other energy saving and energy efficiency programmes. Their main areas are:
- Improving the efficiency and reliability of equipment
- Reducing heat losses
- Reducing electricity consumption for the business’ own needs
- Saving fuel and energy resources
In order to increase the energy efficiency of our logistics assets, we have developed and are implementing the Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Programme until 2025. The main focuses are:
- Improving energy efficiency of the merchant fleet tugs, heat generation facilities, buildings and structures, special and automotive equipment, technological processes and infrastructure
- Using of energy-efficient lighting, optimization of lighting systems
- Improving train control technology
- Improving locomotive indicators and technical condition of track facilities
In 2019, we also focused on enhancing our employees’ understanding of and ability to improve the energy efficiency of their individual activities.
The company does not use water from vulnerable or state-protected sources, or from those of particular importance to local communities or for biodiversity. As the water withdrawn is used to cool the turbines and does not contact the contaminated circuit, the activities of SUEK do not affect the water balance in water bodies. We also use modern treatment facilities to ensure we do not influence water quality.
Optimising water consumption
The main use of water resources in the energy sector is related to cooling TPP equipment. At some of our plants, water treated at local treatment facilities is reused in a closed hydraulic ash removal system.
Water is used during the production and transportation of coal for washing and dust suppression. The majority of SUEK’s washing plants and ports use a closed water cycle, thereby minimising water intake from external sources.
Most of the water consumed and discharged by the company is natural water (with characteristics typical of local groundwater) that is pumped out of mining areas during operations.
Part of the treated water is used for internal production process. Approximately 60% of the treated quarry water at the Tugnuisky and Nikolsky mines is planned to be used for dust suppression and for production at the Tugnuisky washing plant.
The Vanino Bulk Terminal uses a closed water circulation system. In 2019, the Murmansk Commercial Seaport launched a storm water treatment system at full capacity. The system of local treatment facilities treats all the contaminated storm water generated on the industrial site to almost potable quality. Effluents go through four stages of treatment, including ultraviolet disinfection. After that, the water is not discharged into water bodies but is supplied to the dust suppression and spraying systems.
Our production sites use various methods for treating industrial (including from underground mines and open-pit mines) and household wastewater. As part of SUEK’s Environmental policy, the company builds and renovates modern wastewater treatment facilities for cleaning mine/quarry water to meet stringent regulatory requirements for discharge into a water body.In 2019, SUEK:
- Launched treatment pilot operation of facilities for mine waters of Vostochno-Beisky
- Commissioned new local treatment of household wastewater facilities to replace the old ones at Kharanorsky
- Commissioned treatment facilities at the Taldinskaya-Zapadnaya 1, Ruban and Kirov mines
Our power plants are equipped with treatment facilities for industrial and storm discharges
We regularly reconstruct treatment plants in our ports. In 2019, this work was started at Vanino Bulk Terminal. We conducted an environmental review of a similar project at Maly Port which is scheduled for 2020.
Production waste recycling
Production operations inevitably generate waste.
At our power facilities, the majority of waste produced during coal burning is ash and slag, which are not hazardous. In 2019, SUEK actively developed projects to utilise waste for production purposes. Ash and slag from our plants in Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Kuzbass are used for the rehabilitation of disturbed lands and the construction of roads in Khakassia and Novosibirsk. In 2019, all of the ash and slag materials produced from the waste from the Krasnoyarskaya CHPP‑1 was used for the rehabilitation of a worked-out open-pit mine in the Berezovsky district. SUEK is planning three further large-scale land reclamation projects with ash and slag materials in Krasnoyarsk, Nazarovo and Kemerovo.
There is potential to utilise 3.2 Mt of ash and slag for this purpose every year (90% of total ash and slag waste).
Around 99% of the waste we produce in coal mining is not hazardous (overburden, etc.). This waste is used in production processes or for reclamation purposes. In 2019, the amount of overburden used for reclamation decreased due to less worked-out areas. The remaining 1% waste requires special treatment and is transferred to dedicated organisations for neutralisation.
In order to reduce waste sent for disposal, our Zabaikalye facilities process organic waste, industrial rubber articles, polymers, rubbers, oil sludge, bitumen, roofing felt, electronic equipment, waste oils, medical, wood and other carbon-containing waste.
In Khakassia, we operate a tyre-recycling plant. Worn dump-truck tyres are converted into new products, such as tiles for injury-free sports coatings and rubber granules for road surfacing. Adding rubber granules to asphalt coatings increases the grip and makes the road surface more resistant to temperature changes.
Ash dump safety
The technology used by SUEK for storing ash and slag waste in ash dumps is completely safe. The sites are far removed from people’s homes and do not pose any threat to human life.
An ash dump is a hydraulic structure operated in strict compliance with Russian legal requirements. We regularly monitor the safety of these facilities, including the water level in ash dump beds and piezometric wells, through regular depth measurements and other checks. At least once every five years, we engage specialised independent organisations to analyse the safety of SUEK’s hydraulic structures. In addition, Rostekhnadzor monitors the state of our ash dumps and ensures their compliance with operational safety requirements during scheduled and unscheduled inspections. Inspection-based corrective actions have top priority.
For each facility, financial and material reserves have been created to eliminate possible accidents, with civil liability insurance contracts covering our hydraulic structures. The personnel involved in operating ash dumps have all of the necessary qualifications and certifications.
Land rehabilitation and biodiversity
None of SUEK’s production sites are located in protected or nature reserve areas, including territories protected by UNESCO and the Ramsar Convention, and no rare or endangered species of animals, plants or fungi have been identified at our operational sites.
We run extensive reclamation projects on land disturbed by SUEK’s mining projects. Overburden resulting from coal mining is used for filling sinkholes, backfilling and reclaiming land disturbed by mining operations. This is in accordance with approved programmes for the use of mineral resources, including projects to restore the topography and soil, landscaping and gardening programmes. In partnership with the Khakassia Research Institute of Agrarian Problems, we have been running a unique long-term land reclamation project with the goal of preparing recommendations on forest reclamation.
In total for 2019, 552 ha of disturbed lands were reclaimed and rehabilitated to a condition suitable for further use in production processes.
We also take part in projects to assess the state of water resources and minimise the human impact on biodiversity. In order to maintain aquatic biological resources, the company also regularly releases various fish species into local water bodies. In 2019, SUEK released around 800,000 juvenile common carp, peled, Siberian sturgeon, grass carp and silver carp in the Primorye, Zabaikalye, Krasnoyarsk and Kemerovo regions. The Kemerovskaya GRES, Kemerovskaya CHPP and Kuznetskaya CHPP also constructed fish protection facilities.