Why is this important to us?

Air, land and water are finite natural resources. To be a sustainable company we must ensure that each of these resources is used in a responsible manner. Our goal is to respect the ecosystems in the cities and states where our facilities operate. These are also the communities where our stakeholders, including our employees and our local community members, live and work. We must also consider our impact on the larger climate of the United States and the planet. 

The commercial imperative

What kind of challenges do we face?

The steelmaking process is heavily dependent upon natural resources.  For example, air emissions containing permitted levels of carbon dioxide are a byproduct of steel production. Steel is composed of natural resources such as iron ore that is mined from the land. In addition, water plays a critical role in the material transportation and steel production process. 

What do we need to do?

Because steel is central to our everyday lives, we must find ways to manage and minimize our environmental impact. This starts with meeting required environmental regulations and innovating new solutions to continually decrease our environmental footprint. In 2016, 100 percent of our steelmaking facilities in operation maintained their ISO 14001 certification status from the International Standardization Organization.  Adhering to this voluntary environmental management framework demonstrates our commitment to understanding the impact steelmaking has on the environment. Our facilities are regularly audited by internal and external staff to evaluate regulatory and permitting compliance. Our stakeholder relationships are also critical to our success, ensuring that we anticipate issues before they arise and that we are able to work in partnership to address them. Our goal is to build and retain the trust of our stakeholders.  

What is the potential to create value?

Our greatest opportunity to create value lies in our strong stakeholder relationships. Our partnerships with groups such as Sustain our Great Lakes and the Wildlife Habitat Council are excellent examples of how we are actively involved in meaningful environmental protection initiatives outside our company. Additionally, we create value by ensuring our processes set a best practice example of environmental performance. We continue to look for opportunities to utilize the byproducts of steelmaking as resources to drive environmental sustainability. 

2016 Highlights

ArcelorMittal maintained ISO 14001 certification for 100 percent of our steelmaking facilities in operation in the U.S.

In 2016, ArcelorMittal partnered with education programs to bring environmental education to over 3,000 students in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana region, 700 of which participated in environmental stewardship activities at our Burns Harbor and Research and Development facilities in Indiana.


Through ArcelorMittal’s partnership in the Sustain Our Great Lakes Program, grant investments and matching donations have resulted in $125 million of conservation and restoration investment in the Great Lakes Basin since 2008.

Case studies: Air, land and water

Partnering to create a healthier habitat on the Cuyahoga

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The Cuyahoga River shipping channel is sometimes referred to as a lifeline to ArcelorMittal Cleveland. This federal navigation channel is a critical six-mile maritime route that delivers five million tons of essential raw materials to the facility’s docks each year. But ArcelorMittal and other industries along the banks of the Cuyahoga aren’t the only ones that rely on the shipping channel for their livelihood. The river is also home to a rich ecology of fish, plants and other wildlife.

With support from ArcelorMittal and the Sustain Our Great Lakes program, Cuyahoga River Restoration – a local nonprofit organization committed to restoring and protecting the river – is working to make the shipping channel healthy and productive for both industry and fish through a program called “Habitat for Hard Places.” 

“We know that when things are better for fish, they’re better for people,” explained Jane Goodman, executive director, Cuyahoga River Restoration.

Fish can have a difficult time traveling the industrial shipping channel. The steel walls that maintain the channel for large freighters don’t naturally provide vegetation necessary to give shelter, food and oxygen for fish. This can create a “hard place” environment for larval and juvenile fish if they cannot find places to grow and breed, hide from larger fish or hungry birds, or rest on their journey to and from Lake Erie. So Cuyahoga River Restoration and its partners are developing and testing new “habitats” that can support fish in this unique environment.

Goodman likes to think of these habitats installed along the shipping channel’s bulkheads like a series of rest areas along a highway: “They are like truck stops or nurseries for fish.”

“We’ve been able to build fish shelves, and fish pockets, so that fish moving at different parts of their life cycle have a place to stop. ArcelorMittal has been one of the finest, most supportive partners in restoring this part of the river, which many people thought would be totally impossible.”

In the spring of 2016, 600 habitat units were installed, covering 3,600 linear feet of bulkhead in two-mile stretch of the channel. Half of the units are hanging on or adjacent to ArcelorMittal Cleveland property. Goodman said that monitoring over the summer showed that algae (food for fish) is successfully growing on the structures and fish have already been observed using the rest stops.

The shipping canal is critical to our operations, so we are proud to work with Cuyahoga River Restoration to develop habitats for the fish, plants and other wildlife that call the same canal home. 
Protecting our land: The preservation of dune and swale

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In our effort to be a trusted user of land, ArcelorMittal Global Research and Development, in partnership with The Field Museum and The Nature Conservancy, launched an exciting project in the spring of 2013 to restore ten acres of globally rare dune and swale habitat on its East Chicago, Indiana campus.  
Dune and swale is a unique type of natural habitat. It can be found along the southern rim of Lake Michigan and was created when glacial Lake Chicago (the precursor to Lake Michigan) receded thousands of years ago.
Museum ecologists noted the site’s unique topography, undisturbed sandy soils and a few native plants growing in the rougher areas of the site. These were all clues that something very special lay beneath the mowed field. These suspicions were confirmed when mowing of the area ceased and thousands of native plants emerged. 
Inventories of the ArcelorMittal site have documented more than fifty species of plants, including a state-endangered species and two state-threatened species, all of which are being monitored.  
The site requires ongoing management to restore plant diversity, manage invasive species and help maintain the health of rich natural areas. One technique used for this is a prescription burn or fire.  
“Fire was a natural occurrence in wetlands, woodlands, prairies and dune and swale habitat until recent times,” said Laura Milkert, ecological stewardship manager, Keller Science Action Center Science and Education, The Field Museum. “Prescription fire is now a key component to restoration.”  
Prescription fires are part of a national effort to identify, restore, protect and connect over 1.4 million acres of natural areas across the United States. Conservation Land Stewardship in partnership with The Field Museum recently set a prescription fire on the grounds of our Research and Development site to manage the ten acres of globally rare dune and swale habitat. 
“The City of East Chicago Fire Department was involved in the planning stages,” said Matt Bartz, technical procurement and process research, ArcelorMittal R&D. “They were onsite to ensure a safe burn. And because we’re located directly next to a school, the school board president was also engaged in the planning discussions.”
Bartz coordinates student visits to the dune and swale habitat as part of the Mighty Acorns® program funded by ArcelorMittal. The Mighty Acorns program incorporates classroom curriculum, hands-on restoration activities and exploration as it seeks to provide students with multiple and meaningful interactions with the outdoors. 
“Students are using our land to learn about dune and swale, which is very rare. There are very few left in the world,” said Bartz. “This habitat can never be replaced. Its value is immeasurable.”  
We value our partnerships with local organizations and our communities in order to ensure the protection and restoration of land where we will continue to operate for years to come.  

VIDEO: Nurturing dune and swale at ArcelorMittal

Documentary highlights intersection of industry and environment

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ArcelorMittal was proud to partner with Northwest Indiana filmmakers on a documentary film project in 2016. Shifting Sands illustrates the intersection of industry and nature in the past, present and future. The film addresses the unique natural landscape of Northwest Indiana. In this region, rare landscapes have existed in the shadows of steel mills for more than 100 years. 

On the coast of Lake Michigan, the industrial revolution gave birth to many steel mills in the late 1800s. During this time, Northwest Indiana's biodiversity also drew experts in environmental conservation to the region. These experts recognized that while the steel boom built strong economic progress, it also had negative environmental effects on the region. Quickly, these experts became a catalyst for change. In the mid-19th century, a process launched that would lead to vast environmental policy changes and the creation of a National Park. 

Over the years, major changes occurred in environmental responsibility in the steel industry. ArcelorMittal (then Mittal Steel) purchased predecessor company ISG in 2005. ArcelorMittal immediately engaged in dialogue with local stakeholders. The company committed to achieving environmental excellence and being a trusted user of air, land and water. We also began work to educate the next generation to care for our natural resources.  

These kinds of proactive stakeholder relationships spurred collaboration with the Shifting Sands producers in 2016. We brought to the table members of our environmental, corporate responsibility and leadership teams. These individuals helped Shifting Sands producers with key pieces of content to complete the project. ArcelorMittal provided historic footage and photos as well as video content and first person interviews of our operations and community initiatives today.

While the steel industry of the 1800s had many negative impacts, we are proud to be a part of a film project that takes an honest and realistic representation of the industry’s history and current state. ArcelorMittal is committed to championing environmental excellence within our facilities and in the communities where we operate. Each year, we invest more than $2 million in environmental community initiatives near our United States facilities. In Northwest Indiana, we have specifically invested in engaging youth in environmental outreach programs. We are proud to continue our engagement with the Shifting Sands film by sponsoring the development of a toolkit for teachers using the film in their classrooms.