To increase the level of atmospheric protection in the units, the company completely replaced the dust removal systems in the Gerdau Ameristeel Cambridge (Canada) and Gerdau Laisa (Uruguay) mills. We also initiated the operation of blast furnace 3 at the Gerdau Divinópolis mill (state of Minas Gerais, Brazil).
Through the use of dust removal systems, the total dust collection capacity of the Gerdau Group is currently at 23.5 million cubic meters/h, of which 12.6 million cubic meters/h are in North America, 10 million cubic meters/h in Brazil and 0.9 million cubic meters/h in Chile and Uruguay. With these systems, the units are fully equipped to meet the emission standards of the countries where they are located.
Air protection practices were also expanded with the conclusion of the natural gas project at Gerdau Guaíra (state of Paraná, Brazil). Gas, an ecologically cleaner fuel, is used instead of oil.
Highlights in the increased efficiency of water resource use during 2003 were the installation of new industrial water treatment systems in the continuous casting and rolling mills of Gerdau Laisa (Uruguay) and in the melt shop of the Cartersville mill (United States).
In the Charlotte, Knoxville and Sayreville units (United States), we improved the automated scrap preheating system during the furnace loading phase, reducing our global consumption of energy by approximately 3%.