LD slag

The conservation of resources is more than simply a catchphrase for the voestalpine Group; it has long been an important part of the production process as a whole. An example of this is the use of slag, a byproduct of the LD steel making process, which is converted into construction materials for road building and civil engineering. Subject to strict regulations and controls, it has been used extremely successfully for decades, not only in Austria but also in many other countries.

LD slag certified according to REACH

LD slag was registered years ago, as a requirement of the European REACH chemicals regulation. This permits the use of LD slag throughout Europe, for instance, as an aggregate for asphalt, a raw material for the production of cement and clinkers, filling materials, or as material mixtures for base courses without binders for road and railway construction.

The EU’s REACH regulation came into force on June 1, 2007. As a result, before they reach the market, all products are subject to strict European chemical regulations and must therefore be registered. LD slag has also been subject to registration in accordance with the EU chemicals regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals), which includes examination for any danger that a product might pose to the environment. As it meets REACH specifications, voestalpine successfully concluded registration for LD slag with the responsible European chemicals agency (ECHA) years ago. The registration dossier alone comprised around 2,000 pages.

The result of this examination is summarized in the materials safety report, which is publicly available, and confirms that LD slag is not a dangerous material in terms of this EU regulation. According to the system of EU chemical law, this registration not only prevents LD slag from being qualified as “waste”, it also guarantees that it is covered by the free movement of goods throughout the EU. Consequently, any limitation to this free movement of goods and their use or reuse within the EU is a contravention of EU law where Austrian legislators have not proved that such a limitation is valid for reasons of danger and have based their conclusions on the results of the entire body of ecotoxicological expertise drawn up within the framework of the REACH system.

Data and facts on LD slag

Under the guise of environmental protection, an unprecedented and presumably politically motivated campaign has been run in Austria against the use of LD slag for more than a year now. The campaign is neither objective nor serious. This has also resulted in immediate and partly exaggerated political and administrative reactions and - as this has alarmed our customers - has effectively resulted in a complete stop in the use of LD slag in road construction.

Political consensus reached in the spring of 2013 on the need to establish a clear legal framework has, for reasons unclear to ourselves, been consistently and repeatedly delayed, and finally postponed until the next legislative period. This situation is unacceptable for the voestalpine Group, both for environmental and economic reasons. Therefore, in order to return to an objective and factual argument, we have, in the meantime, taken comprehensive measures to once again corroborate existing findings on the harmless nature of LD slag, by commissioning further environmental studies from independent experts and institutions, such as Greenpeace and the Fraunhofer Institute.

With our white paper on "LD Slag Data and Facts" (German only), which gives a summarized presentation of both these results and further information on the subject of LD slag, we wish to simply counteract strident and unfounded polemic with facts and arguments, thereby helping to return discussions and political decision-making to an objective basis.

We owe this to our customers, employees and shareholders, as well as to the reputation of the voestalpine Group and its philosophy of quality.

With this unquestionably factual, objective decision-making basis, we will be able to urge the new government to quickly draw up a reliable legal framework.

For more information and downloads visit the German version of this page.