The largest sources of revenue to the state budget of Ukraine are the agro-industrial complex and metallurgy. These sectors simultaneously combine and share approaches towards the use of land resources. If in the agro-industrial complex land serves as a source of long-term income with the appropriate attitude towards it, in metallurgy, until recently, land was considered purely from a consumer point of view, which depended on the availability of minerals and the need for waste disposal.
Land under waste
According to the rating of the largest pollutants issued by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, in 2017, a dozen of the largest enterprises in the country generated 308 million tons of waste. However, in addition to the direct impact on the environment, this is the area where waste from the production of metallurgy, energy and other areas is kept. According to experts, there are roughly 30 billion tons of man-made waste in Ukraine today. And although there are some statistics on the volume of industrial waste in the country, statistics with information on the area of slag storage facilities are not publicly available.
But we can assume that slag storage facilities occupy many thousands of hectares of Ukrainian land. If, for example, the area of the infamous Zaporozhye slag storage is estimated at 240 hectares, and such storages, or, as they are called in recent years, man-made deposits, exist at all major industrial enterprises in Ukraine, the picture on a national scale is depressing…
Turning waste into income
With the spread of global rules and methods for doing business in Ukraine, the attitude of industrialists towards the reuse of industrial waste is changing. And although much effort is still needed in this direction, nevertheless, the emerging trends in the Ukrainian business environment give grounds for optimism. And the principle of “waste into income” increasingly finds application in practice. Moreover, according to the Institute of Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, out of 30 billion tons of industrial waste, about 20 percent can be considered as man-made deposits, the development of which can generate revenues of up to $1 billion annually.
In addition, the secondary use of industrial waste is not limited to the simple extraction of mineral residues, but also includes the production of new products. An equally important aspect of the development of such projects is the possibility of reclamation and return to agricultural use of land previously used for industrial purposes.
Return of land
Every enterprise within the mining and metallurgical complex has at least once in its history faced the problem of land allocation. This process is especially painful in primarily agricultural areas. In the history of Ukraine, there were cases when it was necessary to abandon the implementation of projects for extraction and processing of minerals due to land allotment.
The spread of the principles of social responsibility amongst domestic businessmen has led to the “reverse process” in the country as industrial enterprises invest their own funds for the reclamation of land that was previously used in industrial production, in particular, quarries.
Thus, the Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Plant (PFP) located in the Kirovograd region is implementing a specially developed project for the reclamation of the spent quarry “Central”. According to the project, the production will be filled with environmentally neutral material to avoid any impact on the composition of groundwater, and a layer of fertile soil for planting will be applied on top. According to PFP general director, Oleg Bespalov, it will be a kind of gratitude to the local community from the plant, because after the project, the rights to this land will be returned to the state and the local community. To implement this project in 2018, the plant purchased new quarry dump trucks.
In addition to the reclamation of spent quarries, in 2017, PFP launched a crushing and sorting site for processing slag into calibrated rubble. In 2018, customers were shipped 33,000 tons of products that have certificates for use in construction and road works. “Today, demand for crushing area products exceeds our production capacity,” explained Oleg Bespalov. “Therefore, we are considering the possibility of increasing production capacity.”
The launch of ferronickel slag processing allows not only to reduce the amount of waste, but can also become a source of additional income for the plant. Thus, according to the general manager, the purchase of new dump trucks was financed from proceeds from the sale of rubble.
It is better with support
According to Oleg Bespalov, the implementation of environmental programs would be significantly accelerated with the support of the state. In addition, according to the head of the PFP, it is not about direct participation, but indirect, due to changes in tax policy: “Today, our environmental program is designed to finance $19 million. This is a fairly large amount for our company, which affects the timing of its implementation. If we were left with 30-50% of the environmental tax to finance environmental programs, the timeline for implementation would be significantly reduced,” concluded Oleg Bespalov.