Droits humains avant profit


Aperam is a Luxembourg multinational company with a leading global position in the field of stainless, electrical and other specialty steels. The Luxembourg State is a 0.563% shareholder in Aperam. [1] Aperam shares have been listed in the LuxX index [2] since 2011. The company was created that year as a result of the spinoff of ArcelorMittal’s stainless- steel division. Its immediate incorporation into the national index indicates the strength of the sector and its promise of future performance.

And indeed, since its creation, Aperam has seen its shares increase in value by over 500%. [3] The company’s management announced “record results” and “the best quarter in its history” at the end of the first quarter of 2021, reporting a 14% increase in its steel shipments compared to the previous quarter, and net profits rising to 116 million €.

With its six main factories in Belgium, France and Brazil, Aperam has a capacity of 2.5 million tons of flat stainless steel, produced mainly using low-cost coal-fired blast furnaces. But it is in Brazil, far from the eyes of its investors, that the price of Aperam’s performance had to be paid by the local people.

Between 1974 and 1978, Aperam Bioenergia [4] dumped illegal deposits of aldrin next to the Serra stream, which supplies water to the Mandingueiro community in Itamarandiba, Minas Gerais. Aldrin is a lethal, extremely polluting pesticide banned in over 100 countries, including Brazil. The pesticide was used by the company in its eucalyptus plantation to extinguish termites and ants. The eucalyptus, which is not native to the region, is processed into charcoal and then used in blast furnaces to produce steel. Besides the effects on the environment, aldrin can cause a variety of health problems. Residents of the region reported symptoms of intoxication, such as headaches, skin irritation, fainting and convulsions, as well as an increase in cases of cancer. [5]

Since the 1970’s, the aldrin deposits remained buried and forgotten. They were not removed until May 2019, after the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Minas Gerais, at the request of the community, initiated an investigation. In November 2019, the Public Prosecutor’s Office filed a public civil action against Aperam, [6] requesting that the company pays compensationto implement a recovery and rehabilitation plan for the contaminated area. On 8 February 2021, Aperam was ordered to pay the state 1.5 million R$ (approximately 235,000 €) in compensation and to inform the community about the soil contamination and the need to consider restricting access to the area. [7]

To date, Aperam continues to reject this verdict and refuses to pay compensation, maintaining that there has been no damage to the environment or the community, and that reparations are therefore not necessary. It also claims that paying the compensation would result in losses and delays in the payment of workers’ salaries. While the headquarters in Luxembourg are announcing record profits, in Brazil, according to expert reports, the consequences of the illegal aldrin landfill will continue to be felt by the local population even after the removal of the contaminated deposits.

Meanwhile, in its 2020 Sustainability Report, Aperam announced “several important achievements in the environmental field”. According to the company, it is partly thanks to the eucalyptus-based charcoal it produces in Brazil through FSC-certified forestry that Aperam maintained its best- in-class CO2 footprint among stainless steel producers. [8]

[1] [2] LuxX is the main Luxembourg stock market index. [3],NL.html [4] At that time, the company was called Acesita Energética. [5] Lage, Nilmar; Grigori, Pedro / Repórter Brasil (08.12.2020): Aterro de agrotóxico proibido contaminou solo e água por quatro décadas em Minas Gerais, diz MP ( proibido-contaminou-solo-e-agua-por- quatro-decadas-em-minas-gerais-diz-mp/). [6] Ministério Público do Estado de Minais Gerais: Processo Judicial Eletrônico, Peças Processuais (Inteiro Teor), Numeração Única: 5000678-24.2019.8.13.0325 (TJMG 1a. Instância) ( content/uploads/2020/12/Processo-MPMG.pdf) [7] Conselho Nacional de Justiça (18.02.2021): Empresa deve depositar R$ 1,5 milhão por dano ambiental em Minas Gerais (

[8] Aperam (2020): Sustainability Report( eReport_Main.pdf).
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