SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean steelmaker POSCO may invest up to 200 billion won ($169 million), on top of a previously announced 1 trillion won, to meet tighter environmental rules on production amid a clampdown on pollution, an executive said on Monday.
Ahn Yoon-gih, senior vice president of POSCO’s steel business, told Reuters in an interview that the world’s fifth-largest steelmaker will continue to make its steelmaking process cleaner, following the country’s toughened law on high concentrations of pollutants.
“In response to that we may invest as much as 200 billion won, or at least 100 billion won,” Ahn said.
South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, has been fighting air pollution in recent years. In March, it designated the problem as a “social disaster”, as a way to step up its efforts to tackle the issue.
The company said in February it would spend a total of 1.07 trillion won over the next three years to build environmentally friendly facilities and reduce emissions.
In addition to reducing pollutants, POSCO also aims to increase the use of steel scrap in its production to lower its dependence on imported raw materials and prolong the life cycle of steel, Ahn said, declining to give exact figures and targets due to confidentiality.
“Recycling is a must to secure materials and that would make us use less iron ore,” he said.
POSCO produces about 42 million tonnes a year of crude steel, while importing around 60 million tonnes a year of iron ore.
Although growing demand for electric vehicle has intensified competition between steel and other materials such as aluminum, Ahn said, light-weight steel has an edge over other metals in terms of durability and sustainability.
“Steel is recyclable and can be used for 75 years and even more than 100 years ... (and) we will keep working to reduce emissions while making steel,” he said.
Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Tom Hogue