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Vale’s worldwide operations raise water reuse to 76%

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Vale has released its 2008 Sustainability Report, showing that the company continues to make significant progress in environmental, social and economic spheres. One of the positive results described in the document is higher reuse of water resources. Of the 1.37 billion m3 of water consumed by Vale in 2008, 1.03 billion m3, or 76%, came from recirculation and reuse projects in various locations, including operations acquired in Australia in 2007, which entered the report for the first time in 2008. The latest percentage represents a significant improvement on the 65% registered in 2007.
The 2008 results, achieved through increased water storage capacity, enable the company to optimize reutilization in various sites and have made Vale a leader in the reuse of water resources within the mining sector.
In the 2008 Sustainability Report, which follows the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) methodology, Vale increased its level of transparency in disclosing information, describing 73 environmental, social and economic indicators – 22 more than in 2007, when the company adopted this model.
As in the previous year’s report, the 2008 document complies with “G3”, the latest version of GRI guidelines, and is classified as B+, on a scale from C to A+. The document underwent an external verification, conducted by consulting firm KPMG Assurance Services.
GRI model
Created in 1997, the Global Reporting Initiative is a network of specialists in sustainability, headquartered in the Netherlands, which has developed a structure to prepare reports on sustainability that is the most widely used internationally.
Commenting on the report, Vale’s CEO, Roger Agnelli said: “This publication reaffirms our commitment to the transparency of our activities and to improving our internal management of sustainability.”
“In 2008, we received recognition as a company committed to transparent communications – our 2007 Sustainability Report was highlighted as a ‘Notable Communications on Progress’ (COP) publication by the United Nations Global Compact, which shows we are on the right track.”
Vale’s 2007 Sustainability Report, the first to be based on the GRI model, contributed towards various awards for the company. Vale was ranked among the five best positioned companies in the basic materials sector (mining and metals, steelmaking and chemicals) in the 2008 GS Sustain report, published by investment bank Goldman Sachs, which analyzed sustainability performance, industry issues, and return on capital. More recently, Vale received the Transparency in Sustainability Award from the Brazilian Institute for Investor Relations (IBRI), which analyzed companies listed on the Bovespa stock exchange.
Sustainable Development Policy
Issued in January 2009, Vale’s Sustainable Development Policy strengthens its alignment with international initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact and the International Council on Mining and Metals, a global forum on sustainability in the sector. Vale’s sustainability strategy is based on three pillars: operating sustainably, catalyzing local development, and acting as a global agent for sustainability.
The policy will contribute towards aligning Vale’s sustainability strategy with its business planning and rising to local and global challenges.
Climate change
One of the global challenges for the Sustainable Development Policy is climate change. In 2008, the company’s greenhouse gas emissions stood at 16.8 million tons of CO2 equivalent – 10% higher than in 2007. This increase was mainly due to the incorporation of Vale Australia units and improvements to the emission calculations methodology.
Last year, the company launched its Corporate Guidelines on Climate Change and Carbon, including the Vale Carbon Program, which is carrying out a series of globally-coordinated projects. These include a project to replace fuel oil with natural gas in pelletizing plants in Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais, which cut emissions by 139,000 tons of CO2 equivalent between 2007 and 2008, and a project to capture methane to generate electricity in operations at Integra underground mine in New South Wales, Australia. Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the plant is able to generate 10 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 15,000 homes.
Of all the electricity purchased by Vale (indirect electricity), 76% comes from hydroelectric sources. In Brazil, the company is investing heavily in power generation, mainly large hydroelectric projects through consortia (seven plants are operating and one – Estreito – is being built), and also small hydro projects. Vale directly produces 34% of its own electricity needs.
The company has also been investing in natural gas and biodiesel to replace diesel and fuel oil in its operations. In February 2009, Vale launched the Green Train project, which aims to use a blend of natural gas and diesel in its locomotives, with 50% to 70% natural gas. The project is under trials on the Vitória-Minas Railway. It is estimated that using natural gas on the Vitória-Minas Railway and the Carajás Railway will cut emissions of CO2 equivalent by 73,000 tons per year.
Also this year, Vale signed an agreement with Biopalma da Amazônia S.A. to produce biodiesel from palm oil, which is ten times more productive than soy. The plan is to use B20 (a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% regular diesel) on the Carajás Railway and in other operations in Vale’s North System, starting in 2014, far in advance of government regulations that mandate its use in 2020. Vale currently uses B3 in its trains.
Vale has been recognized by the market for these and other initiatives, as well as for its transparency in publishing its greenhouse gas inventory annually. Vale is considered the global leader in its sector in the climate change ranking in Goldman Sachs’ Sustain 2009 report entitled Change is coming: A framework for climate change – a defining issue of the 21st century. The report, published in July, analyzes the opportunities and challenges related to the issue, and finds that Vale manages its emissions more efficiently than its peers. Goldman Sachs analyzed the public reports of around 800 global companies, divided into 24 sectors, with a total market value of approximately 90% of the MSCI World Index, composed of company shares listed in 48 countries.
In 2008, Vale was the only Latin American company listed in the Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The index rates the 500 biggest companies in the world, measured by market capitalization, listed on the FTSE Global Equity Index Series – Global 500. Of all mining companies studied, Vale registered the lowest greenhouse gas emission intensity in 2007, in terms of emissions per unit of revenue.
Eduardo Bartolomeo, Vale’s executive director for Logistics, Project Management and Sustainability added:
“For us, the presentation of the 2008 Sustainability Report represents another step towards transparency. The topic of sustainability is not limited to environmental factors alone, it is also associated with the social and economic spheres. This is a process that demands great effort in activities such as measuring and managing, but Vale understands that this is a great opportunity for the continuous improvement of the actions that the company has taken towards sustainability.”
“Ever since we made our Sustainability Report public last year, we have obtained valuable recognition, and Vale was positioned among the most sustainable corporations in the world. We now figure among the top five companies in the minerals and metals sectors ranking of the GS Sustain – Focus List report by Goldman Sachs.”
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