Sunday, July 25, 2021

EquipmentSphere-Mining Equipment

Mining success

 

There has never been a more exciting time to be talking about mining in India. India's multi-billion dollar mining industry is finally looking up. The government’s latest move to identify 100 blocks for exploration to the private sector is aimed at boosting the country’s mineral output and cutting dependence on overseas purchases.  Shailaja Sharma takes a look at the latest developments in the sector.

 

FIRING THE DOMESTIC ECONOMY

India is amongst the world’s top 10 producers of many minerals. It ranks 2nd in Chromite, 3rd in Coal & Lignite and Bauxite, 4th in Iron ore and 5th in Manganese. Overall, the country produces 87 minerals, including 4 fuel minerals, 10 metallic minerals, 47 non-metallic minerals, 3 atomic minerals and 23 minor minerals (including building and other materials). And while mining contributes approx. only 1 per cent to India’s GDP, the sector acts as a catalyst for the core manufacturing and infrastructure industries in India including power, steel and cement. According to the Mining, Geological & Metrological Institute of India (MGMI), every 1 per cent increment in the growth rate of mining and quarrying results in 1.2 – 1.4 per cent increment in the growth rate of industrial production and an approximate increment of 0.3 percent in the growth rate of India’s GDP. Going forward, the mining sector is expected to play a crucial role in helping India achieve 7 per cent plus GDP growth by adding $125 billion to India’s output and $47 billion to India’s GDP by 2025.

 

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES

With the government's commitment to open up mineral deposits for FDI, permitting of commercial mining of coal and encouraging large and long term MDO contracts, the mining industry is set to create 6 million additional jobs by 2025, taking care of almost 12 per cent of the fresh non-farm job gap. In fact, mining revenues have been significantly boosting state revenues in mining dominant states such as Goa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. For example, Angul district (Talcher coal fields) in the eastern state of Odisha, has outperformed the state of Odisha. The GDP per capita of Angul is `101,000 against Odisha’s average of `35,000.

At the time of writing this story, the government had convened a meeting of mining ministers from states to discuss sectorial issues as well as expedite reforms envisaged in the MMDR (Amendment) Act. The act passed by both houses recently, will allow for transfer of captive mines in the country without the need for auction, freeing up a number of stuck deals in the mining sector.

 

INDUSTRY MOVEMENT

While globally, the demand for mining equipment has fallen by over 30 per cent during CY2015 due to sharp cuts in capex plans of all global mining majors & declining commodity prices, India is witnessing a inverse trend.

Recently the Government of Maharashtra granted a mining lease to MOIL, the country's largest manganese ore miner, to explore ore reserves in about 600 hectares of land in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

While Jharkhand is all set to become the second state in the country to auction gold mines. It was expected to release tenders for the blocks by the middle of the year.

Also with companies like Coal India planning to almost double its output by 2020 and go for modernisation of its mining techniques, the market will present long-term prospects for multi-billion dollar equipment contracts for many sector majors like Larsen & Toubro, GMMCO of CK Birla Group, public sector Heavy Engineering Corp and also overseas companies like Atlas Copco, Joy Global & BelAZ of Belarus. The Commercial vehicle segment, one of the key participants in the mining sector has grown by 7.37 percent to 650,993 units (2014: 606,255 units) in calendar year 2015. Also with the recent hike in rail freight charges by 25-41 per cent, the demand for new CVs is expected to rise.  While domestic players like Tata Motors (44 per cent market share currently) and Ashok Leyland (18 per cent market share currently) have dominated the market for the past decade, the entry of premium international players like MAN Truck, Daimler Trucks, Scania and Volvo have intensified competition resulting in state-of-the-art product platforms, well distributed network support, improved dealer networks and intuitive aftersales practices, increasing focus on total cost of ownership & competency development.

The growth is not limited to the domestic sector alone. State-owned major, National Aluminum Company Limited (Nalco) recently signed an MOU with Iranian Mines & Mining Industries Development Renovation Organization (IMIDRO) to jointly explore the possibility of setting up an aluminum smelter cum-gas based power plant plant in Iran. The plant will utilise supply of alumina from Nalco's refinery in India. According to industry sources, the proposed project may entail an investment of approximately `10,000 crore.

 

TECHNOLOGY ROADMAP: EVOLVING THE MARKET

As the mining sector continues to advance, technology innovations likes launch of high-capacity excavators, operator independent truck dispatch systems, vehicle tracking systems using GPS, laser scanners, continuous miners on large-scale mining operations, long-wall technology, a form of underground coal mining where a long wall of coal is mined in a single slice and man-riding systems at major underground mines will continue to evolve the raise the benchmark in mining processes.

 

Satellite-based surveillance

Also the impact of technology extends beyond customers. At the first meeting of the inter-ministerial group (IMG) in May 2016, plans were discussed to check illegal mining with satellite-based surveillance. The pilot programs have already begun in Goa. In addition to monitoring the trucks, mining company officials are also running pilot programs to take even royalty payments online. “The entire project involves an ecosystem — the government, the mining companies, truck owners and the technology — all work together to make it transparent," says Pratap Hegde, co-founder and CEO at Telematics4u (T4U), the company that built the technology platform.

 

Meeting on-site conditions

With the demand steadily rising, the mining industry vehicles (trucks and tippers) employed in the sector operate under highly strenuous conditions affecting uptime and long-term performance.

Responding to this need, Volvo Trucks was one of the first players in India to pioneer the 8X4 concept (4 axle truck). Today, the company claims that the 8x4 with a tipper of 19.5cu.m is the most popular model for overburden applications. While the Volvo FMX, which comes with comes with a 13 ltr engine producing 440hp to 520 hp., is designed exclusively for extremely tough and demanding overburden applications operating in harsh conditions in the open cast mines. The company is already testing new technologies like Emergency braking system, Lane assist, Sleep detection system, Autonomous truck, Platooning etc. The same will be launched in the market depending upon the need.

According to BharatBenz , even today 85 per cent of 8x4 heavy-duty mining tippers in India are used for removal of over burden material at coalmines. In line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative that encourages local manufacturing of CVs in the country, the BharatBenz 3143 CM, (Daimler’s latest offering in this segment) is also the first indigenised heavy-duty tipper for the Indian deep mining segment.

While, on the domestic front, Tata Motors had showcased four construction and mining commercial vehicles at EXCON 2015.

 

Flexible support solutions

Apart from performance, full-fledged, on-site maintenance support across locations remains a key determinant in product selection of high value equipment. For example, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV) Pvt Ltd, which sells Bharat Benz branded medium and heavy duty trucks and buses has over 80 dealerships which are full-fledged setups dealing with Sales, Service & plans to increase it by 50 per cent in the next two years.

The state-of-the-art dealerships manned by Daimler trained engineers/technicians are equipped with high productivity tools, advanced guided diagnostics & Mobile Service vans. The dealerships also provide flexible support solutions like Cashless Zero-depreciation Insurance, Annual Maintenance Contracts, Extended Warranty, 24x7 Roadside Assistance, Vehicle tracking systems, Driver Training and Express & On-site Service.

While Tata Motors & HCV Trucks claims to have the widest sales, service and spares network in India comprising 200+ sales touch points & 1300+ service centers.

 

Up skilling labor

Another challenge fast emerging in the sector is extreme scarcity of skilled maintenance & driving personnel for specialised equipment and vehicles. For example, compared to the US and European markets where freight carrier driving over long distances is seen as skilled employment, in India, it is mainly perceived as a last resort for uneducated/ unskilled labor.

Last November, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari mentioned that there was a 22 per cent shortage of drivers.

To meet this gap, one of the players, Volvo Trucks has set up the first Driver Training Centre, at its plant in Hosakote, India. Close to the test track, with complete training facilities for classroom and practical sessions, the training programs offer know-how on advanced truck technology, safety and superior driving skills and improving fuel efficiency. Till date, the company has trained 50,000 truck drivers.

Companies like Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland have also started driver-training schools. Several big fleet owners have also improved working conditions by adopting new ergonomically designed vehicles and also providing social security safety nets like provident fund and insurance.

 

Design improvements

With the changes in emission and safety norms, as well as the strenuous working conditions in mining areas, there have been significant improvements in product design and driving comfort in CV vehicles. Volvo Trucks Telematics Solution (Dynafleet) is a standard offer for all trucks delivered in India and it allows operators better maintenance, higher productivity and better driver management. It is no longer difficult to find air-conditioned cabins, GPS tracking devices and Bluetooth connectivity in the vehicles.  The BharatBenz 3143’s air-conditioned cabin’s seats are 3-way adjustable and the cabin tilt angle is of 67 degrees for better accessibility around the engine. While Volvo FMX’s Ishift feature (AMT), reduces driver fatigue as the driver needs to focus only on maneuvering the vehicle.

 

In conclusion

Going ahead, while the sector continues to surge ahead, several challenges including, land acquisition, high borrowing costs, regulatory and environmental issues continue to threaten its upward swing.

A concerted effort by both the Government and private sector is the need of the hour.

 

 

KEY PLAYERS

  • Atlas Copco
  • Caterpillar
  • Daimler India
  • Dozco
  • JCB
  • John Deere
  • Kobelco Construction Equipment
  • Komatsu
  • Liebherr
  • Mahindra & Mahindra
  • Sandvik
  • Sany Heavy Industry India
  • Tata Hitachi
  • Tata Motors
  • Terex
  • VE Commercial
  • Volvo



Leave a Comment

Name  
Email Address
(will not be published)    
Website
Comment