SIJ Group earns its first ResponsibleSteel site certification in Slovenia

SIJ Group (Slovenian Steel Group) has achieved ResponsibleSteel certification for its SIJ Acroni and SIJ Metal Ravne sites, placing Slovenia on the global map of responsible steel production.

SIJ is a leading producer of stainless steel and special steels in Europe and is one of Slovenia’s leading exporters. The certification covers two steel mills, both operating Electric Arc Furnaces (EAFs), as well as hot and cold rolling mills, and a forging shop.

“SIJ has long made efforts to be at the forefront of sustainable practice in the industry. SIJ’s first EAF opened in the 1960s, and today around 78% of its steel input is scrap. But sustainability must go beyond circularity, and beyond decarbonisation. Most recently as part of the certification audit process, SIJ has made real strides to meet ResponsibleSteel International Standard’s social and governance criteria, committing to strengthening and improving the protection of worker’s rights and health and safety systems,” said Annie Heaton, CEO, ResponsibleSteel.

SIJ is one of the largest employers in Slovenia and collectively, the newly certified sites employ over 2,600 workers. Since 2007, SIJ has invested over 800 million euros in new technology, aimed at streamlining processes, improving working conditions, and mitigating environmental impacts. The company has set a target of reducing emissions by 51% by 2030 against a 2020 baseline and aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. The group has also set targets in the field of occupational health and safety. By 2026, SIJ aims to have six sites operating in accordance with ISO 45001 for occupational health and safety.

Andrey Zubitskiy, President of the Management Board for SIJ commented, “Obtaining ResponsibleSteel certification represents a new sustainability milestone in the history of SIJ Group, following our transition to steel production based on circular economy principles four decades ago. We are now part of a select group of steelmaking companies worldwide that are setting standards for sustainable practices in our industry. It reflects our commitment to our employees, the community and the environment in which we operate.”

He continued, “Steel is the most widely used material in the world. With our products, we are a reliable partner for automotive, mechanical engineering, infrastructure, construction, power generation and other industries that require the assurance that the materials they use have been obtained through sourcing and production processes based on responsible practice. The goal of ResponsibleSteel is to satisfy such requirements with a management approach that combines economic development, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and transparent governance, in order to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable future for people and the planet.”

However, certification isn’t the end of the journey. ResponsibleSteel certificates are valid for three years. Around 12 to 18 months in, the sites will undergo a surveillance audit by the contracted certification body, AFNOR, which will involve additional stakeholder interviews and a review of the sites’ progress on any minor non-conformities that were identified in the initial audit.

As said by Dr Tadeja Primožič Merkač, Director of Quality, Sustainability and Corporate Management, SIJ Group. “While sustainability has always been an important topic for us, ResponsibleSteel has taught us to take a more management systems-based approach and has helped us improve our understanding of the importance of even better working conditions for employees and a culture of health and safety at work. Today, we are proud of our achievement, but we are aware that the path of sustainable development is a continuous process of learning and improvement, which we will demonstrate every year and a half through recertification.”

To find out more details on this certification, please read the audit summary here.
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