EghtesadOnline: Mobarakeh Steel Company -- Iran's biggest steelmaker in Isfahan Province -- has significantly reduced water consumption over the past 25 years, managing director of the complex said.
"MSC consumed 16,000 liters of water to produce one ton of steel in 1994. Now that has decreased by five times or 80%, and stands at 3,000 liters," Hamidreza Azimian told the Persian-language economic daily Donya-e-Eqtesad on Tuesday.
MSC's annual output is 7.2 million tons, for which 22 billion liters of water is used. The water consumption was 37 billion liters in 1994 for producing two million tons of steel, according to Financial Tribune.
According to the official, investment in water purification and water reclamation has helped the company make a major breakthrough. Water use is expected to decrease further before the current fiscal is out next March.
Major steel factories like Chadormalu, Mobarakeh and Gol-e-Gohar are located in arid provinces, namely Yazd, Isfahan and Kerman where precipitation usually does not exceed 60 millimeters per annum.
“We currently use 3,000 liters of water to produce one ton of steel. This is while the average in Iran is around 6,000 liters,” he said.
In a similar move other steel factories, namely Isfahan Steel Company, are taking steps not only to curb water consumption, but also conserve as much water as possible by tapping into unconventional resources like wastewater.
According to Mansour Yazdizadeh, managing director of Isfahan Steel Company -- Iran's third largest steel producer -- a 5km pipeline is being laid to channel wastewater from lagoons in the vicinity of Zarrin-Shahr to wastewater treatment plants in the company.
A part of the factory's need was met through water from Zayandehroud Dam, but due to the water crisis in the region the steel company has been ordered to stop using fresh water until 2021.
The project will cost $500,000 and help the plant replace dam water with wastewater.
Referring to other plans, Yazdizadeh said laying an 18-km pipeline to supply wastewater from Najafabad to the steel company is on the agenda and will cost $4 million.
All the water conservation efforts notwithstanding, the bitter fact that steelmakers are literally wiping out the sparse water resources in the arid and desert regions like Isfahan cannot be denied.
Experts including Parviz Kardavani, a veteran eremologist, have often warned that some economic development projects can be a recipe for disaster as they require massive amount of water.
"Importing steel is better than importing food," he once said, asserting that there will be no water left for farming if expansion of steel mills in the drought dry and parched central plateau continues. Steel mills use colossal volumes of water while people's access to potable water remains limited.