More from less with Outotec’s expertise
I have met many of Outotec’s customers since taking on the position of CEO in October, and issues concerning productivity improvement come up in almost every conversation. Our customers often want also to discuss the challenges they face relating to the use of raw materials and energy, the need to reduce emissions, and water management, for example. In such contexts I am very happy to hear them describe Outotec as an expert high tech company that can offer sustainable, resource-efficient solutions to improve their productivity and profitability. In addition to investment costs, the entire life-cycle costs of facilities are now receiving more and more attention.
Outotec’s extensive positive ecological handprint is created when our customers use the environmentally preferable technologies and solutions we have developed. The negative impacts of our own operations – our own ecological footprint – are considerably smaller than this handprint.
In 2016, Outotec earned one of the top positions in the Corporate Knights’ index of the Global 100 most sustainable companies for the second time. This is welcome recognition of the work we do and the results we have accomplished.
More efficient metal recovery
As the metal content of mined ores decreases, and since in many places the best mineral deposits have already been exhausted, resource efficiency and recycling are taking on an ever more important role. Much has been done in these areas, but many opportunities still exist.
In addition to the solutions needed in primary production, Outotec has the top class expertise and technology to enable the effective use of materials extracted earlier, such as tailings, side streams and slag. This can result in more valuable materials, less waste and better efficiency.
Our work with our customer AMG in Brazil provides a good example of this. Outotec helps AMG to process tailings and extract previously unutilized lithium from them. Lithium is a very important metal, for instance in the manufacture of batteries.
In many countries investments are currently being made in sulfuric acid plants. The sulfur dioxide created during metallurgic smelting processes can be almost fully recovered and transformed into sulfuric acid. Each new sulfuric acid plant is a very positive thing for the environment, as well as for all the people involved.
Water – a uniquely precious resource
The poor availability of process water and the insufficient quality of untreated water are problematic in many areas. In some locations fresh water must be created by extracting the salt from seawater, which is an expensive process. Outotec has a wealth of experience in solutions enabling the purification and recycling of process water.
Recycled phosphorus for fertilizer use
Phosphorus is a vital fertilizer for agriculture, but global phosphorus reserves are dwindling. The recovery and recycling of phosphorus is an important new area for Outotec. In a pilot facility in Skellefteå, Sweden, for instance, sludge from municipal sewage is efficiently dried using our technology, after which the remaining solid matter is used to produce energy applying fluidized bed technology. Detrimental elements can then be removed from the resulting ash, enabling the remaining ash, which is rich in phosphorus, to be used as a fertilizer.
CO2 emission reductions on the agenda
The Paris Climate Agreement has drawn the world’s attention to carbon dioxide emissions. For Outotec, this is a business opportunity – after all, our technologies are widely known for minimizing environmental impacts.
The steel industry is actively striving to reduce emissions around the world, with help from Outotec. Completely CO2-emission-free, hydrogen-based direct reduction is a technological vision that could reshape the industry’s future. However, getting there will require extensive development work.
Profitability and diversity at Outotec
2016 was a challenging year for Outotec. Although order volumes in our Minerals Processing segment began to grow, and profitability was good thanks also to cost savings; order volumes in the Metals, Energy & Water segment remained weak, and results were negative. We were therefore forced to cut down our expenses, reduce 650 jobs, and continue cost saving actions.
Our focus was on improving profitability and clarifying our modes of operation. Despite many challenging years, our personnel and our investors have shown great commitment to the company.
We are now building the future. This involves striving to serve our customers even better, and develop our service portfolio with our new Services business unit, which begins its operations in April 2017. Our task is to give our customers insights into new possibilities, and to keep one step ahead.
Our skilled and talented people are motivated by success. Excellence in workplace safety is an example of what we can achieve by working together. In our project site at an ilmenite smelter in Jazan, Saudi-Arabia, for instance, more than 11 million hours have now been worked without any accidents resulting in sick leave.
I place great importance on promoting diversity and equality. More than 60 different nationalities are represented in our personnel. We strive to promote teamwork that brings together colleagues from different parts of the world. We have also set a goal to increase the share of women in management positions.
Working towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Outotec is committed to support and implement the principles of the UN Global Compact concerning human rights, working life, environmental affairs, and anti-corruption. Through our own actions the company also supports the realization of the UN Agenda 2030, which promotes sustainability. The UN aims for development that takes into account the environment, the economy, and people in a balanced way. I hope you will enjoy reading more in this report about how our goals are linked with those of the UN.
Finally, I would like to sincerely thank our personnel, our investors, our customers and our partners for their commitment to Outotec, and for the valuable feedback we have received through various forums. This greatly helps us to further develop our company – with the sustainable use of natural resources as our common goal.
President and CEO