Abundant scope for mining equipment business
Mining equipment industry in India has been in the forefront for last few decades and has a well-matured technology base. Here we present an in-depth analysis of mining equipment industry in India covering the key trends, growth drivers, technology innovation, and market potential
As mining becomes intensive with time, the demand for mechanisation and highly productive, safe, efficient and cost-effective machineries are increasing. There is a lot of scope to usher in this technology in India, but this will happen in future as the sector grows.
Here, we find out the industry experts’ opinion on the current status as well as the future for mining equipment industry, the evolving technical challenges and its positive effects on overall equipment industry.
Growth driversWhile talking about the growth drivers for the industry, Kiran Divakaran, Director, Hindustan Mining Machinery, said, “With abundant unexplored coal reserves and the perpetual power deficit, there has been substantial growth in the coal mining sector, resulting in regular demand for mining equipment. Commodity prices have fallen despite increase in input costs and to top it off, private players face a liquidity crunch like never before. There has been a substantial decline in the demand for equipment from the Indian metal mining segment. With no solution in sight for the various private mines closed in Karnataka and Goa region, mining equipment makers are focussing on state-run entities and mega infrastructure projects. Commodity prices will play a key role in demand for mining equipment in the long run.”
According to Santhosh Rao, GM South & East, Product Specialist Mining, Wirtgen India, “Coal mining is a major growth driver for the mining equipment sector in India and this will continue for long. The capacity expansion plans of the existing mines and the imminent opening up of new mines provide abundant scope for the growth of mining equipment business.”
Available technologyTechnology advancement is slowly happening and may take considerable time to replicate. Mr. Divakaran explained, “In past, technology for mining and defence in India was always supported by the Russians. With the lifting of ban on technology transfer imposed after operation ‘Smiling Buddha’ conducted in May 1974, technology transfer is slowly happening. Most tenders, called by PSUs who have advanced technologies, are subjected to two or three extensions, mostly because of the absence of players in the field who meet the minimum criteria. Many small manufacturers are developing indigenous technologies with dedicated R&D teams like Hindustan Mining Machinery which has developed electric locomotives with state-of-the-art, energy saving PWM speed controllers and regenerative breaking previously unheard of in India.”
Industry status While talking about the status of Indian mining machinery, Mr. Divakaran described, “Historically, the Kolar Gold Mines was the mother of all mines in India. Technology left behind by the British in the now defunct BGML was replicated across all underground mines in India by the Government. However, India still does not have its own tunnel boring machine or a high-speed shaft sinking machine. The full-fledged mining equipment manufacturer like BEML Limited has lost its focus and diversified into other highly lucrative ventures, leaving a big void which is being filled by either renting or leasing these special purpose machines from other countries.”
Whereas, Y Srinivas Reddy, Managing Director, Bevcon Wayors, had different views. He said, “India is lagging behind in mechanisation of the mining sector which in turn is leading to large demand-supply gap. Mechanisation cost, due to total dependence on the imported machinery, is very high that it is pushing most of the miners to go in conventional way. However, things are improving currently as most of the foreign mining machinery manufactures are establishing production centres in India and preparing to share their technologies. Due to high competition, overall technology and machinery cost is going to come down in due course.”
Kiran Divakaran, Director, Hindustan Mining Machinery
Santhosh Rao, GM South & East, Product Specialist Mining, Wirtgen India
Y Srinivas Reddy, Managing Director, Bevcon WayorsProspectsAccording to Mr. Divakaran, “With the opening up of the economy for cheaper imports of machineries and equipment, and the void of not having any dedicated manufacturer, the equipment industry will be an import oriented field.”
He continued, “The National Mineral Policy, 2008, for non-fuel and non-coal minerals envisions to make indigenous industry stronger for manufacture of mining equipment and machineries by encouraging foreign technology and participation, and states that import of such equipment and machineries will be freely allowed. Automation and robot assisted mining is the future in mining, especially to meet the objective of safety and economic production. Deep mining and transportation to surface can be achieved by the development of robots and automated systems for mining.”
“Automated operations are already winning over today’s mining industry. Autonomous trucks, tele-operated drills, robot assisted blasts, automated logistics applications and intelligent roof bolting machines are increasingly used in mines in Australia, South Africa and other countries. India will very soon adapt them,” added Mr. Divakaran.
Whereas Mr. Rao said, “We are extremely hopeful of the future as demand for coal and other minerals in this country. The current levels of production, however, are barely enough to meet our needs. This scenario augers well for the industry for the future. However the pace at which this happens is a big question as we have many socio-economic issues to deal with.”
“There is a great scope for the mining machinery in future. We have abundant possibilities to explore the mines in various sectors once the clear guiding policies are defined from the Government with regard to the environmental clearances, land acquisitions and method of awarding contracts in transparent manner. We are very much optimistic that Indian mining machinery industry will have promising future,” concluded Mr. Reddy.