On 19 February 2020, members of the Strategic Metallurgical Council (SSM), of which SIJ Group is a member, presented to Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek and Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Simon Zajc, challenges and proposals for solutions to achieve European goals for a green future by 2050, which will have a profound impact on Slovenian industry. Ministers, in charge of day-to-day operations, were reminded of the current Comprehensive National Energy and Climate Plan (NEPN), which envisages a 43% reduction in CO2 emissions and at least 30% use of renewable resources.

SSM members emphasized that Slovenian metallurgical companies are among the best in the world in terms of energy efficiency of their production processes and low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We use the best available technology (BAT) in our processes and actively invest in low or carbon-neutral footprint. For the future of the planet, a circular economy is the only logical direction, so we welcome the guidelines of the European Green Deal, while at the same time we wish to appeal to the Republic of Slovenia that Slovenia, as a highly export-oriented country, cannot afford to tighten conditions for economy more than other countries.

»In the field of industry, we are not afraid of ambitious goals, however, they must be realistic and at the same time supported by sufficient resources for implementation. As well, there should always be optimal timeframe and set deadlines for their realization, « said Marko Drobnič, President of the Strategic Metallurgical Council and President of the Management Board of Talum at the beginning of the SSM session at the National Museum of Slovenia, where the exhibition »The Song of Metal - Millennia of Metallurgy in Slovenia« will be open until May.

 In SIJ Group, we are ready to continue our efforts to reduce environmental impacts, but our efforts so far also need to be taken into account: »We operate on the principles of a circular economy and produce steel exclusively from steel scrap. With emissions of 457 kg CO2 / t of produce, we rank at the top of the most successful steel companies in the world, which emit an average of 690 kg CO2 / t. Steel companies that use secondary raw materials for steelmaking are in the minority (40%) in Europe, which means that NEPN will be particularly hard on us. The low carbon footprint is, among other things, the result of numerous investments having been made over the years and having implemented the best available technologies for steel production and energy efficiency (BAT). We are also constantly implementing measures to improve cost, energy and environmental efficiency. Therefore, the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43%, as envisaged by the NEPN, is in case of SIJ Group a far too ambitious goal as it does not already take into account all our previous efforts and activities in accordance with the principles of circular management. It is also a fact that currently there is no reliable technology to replace the natural gas we need in SIJ Group to produce the heat required to heat steel and thereby produce high quality niche steel products, which is our competitive advantage. The NEPN objective of using at least 30% of the share of renewable energy sources can be approximated by taking into account the excess heat already emitted by SIJ Group to Ravne na Koroškem heating network as a renewable resource, which was anticipated by a newer version of NEPN, however, financial support for these technologies still has to be provided. Without this, the realization of this goal cannot be expected until new and tested energy resources are available to reduce the primary energy sources we use (natural gas), « said Slavko Kanalec, Technology Director at SIJ Group.

The Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, stated at at the conclusion of the session, »in the inter-ministerial coordination regarding amendments to the Environmental Protection Act, they will support the proposals of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the energy-intensive industry, in order to introduce a legal basis for the possible establishment of a scheme for indirect GHG emissions (greenhouse gases). I would also like to emphasize that the transition to a circular economy will also be one of the key priorities of Slovenia's EU Council Presidency in 2021«.