Mining the Future

The future of the mining equipment market in India looks good with opportunities in underground mining and surface mining. The major drivers for the growth of this market are growth in mining activity, increasing demand for metal and mineral commodities, and rapid urbanization.

Emerging trends that have a direct impact on the dynamics of the mining equipment industry are underground automation systems for efficient mining, automatic power crushers for crushing and compacting operations, multi-functional excavators for construction and demining functions, use of hybrid electric motors for cost-effective operations, and rail-veyor technology for bulk material hauling solutions.

The growth of the mining industry is driven by development in the automotive & transport industry, advancements in processing equipment and manufacturing technologies, and an increase in the usage of minerals in various industries such as building & construction, and packaging. In terms of consumption growth, India is one of the leading regions, due to massive urbanization, growth in income of people living in urban areas, and rapid industrial development. Additionally, continuous advancements in the automotive and aerospace industry and ongoing R&D activities to develop innovative, cheaper, and effective products fuel the growth of the market.

Furthermore, domestic demand for Copper and Aluminium is expected to be strong on the back of an improved outlook for industrial and infrastructure growth. The government’s thrust on the energy and power sector, smart city, Housing for all, harnessing renewable energy resources, electric vehicles, infrastructure development, Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, and Make in India spells good news for the India mining industry. The per capita copper consumption in India is expected to increase from the current level of 0.6 kg to 1 kg in the coming years. Importantly, the average per capita copper consumption in the world is 3.2 kg.

In recent years, mining companies have adopted a growing range of digital solutions. Many have mechanised their operations, moved from the physical to the digital realm by adding equipment sensors. Despite this progress, in many ways these steps are only a beginning. The true power of digital transformation lies in a structured road map that extends changes from an individual asset level to the entire organisation, to create a platform for innovation and collaboration—ultimately ensuring that digital transformation goes beyond replacing workers and instead augments the workforce and collaborates with it.

According to the report by Allied Market Research, the global mining equipment market was estimated at $137.57 billion in 2021 and is expected to hit $165.82 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 5.7 per cent from 2021 to 2027.

As in past years, many mining projects across the country faced delays caused by government decision-making, court cases, and environmental, regulatory, and land acquisition issues. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed mining operations, and the industry has faced supply chain issues and import challenges.

India allows 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) for the exploration and mining of non-core minerals, as well as in oil exploration, captive mining of coal and lignite, and coal processing. To meet energy demand, India plans to upgrade the equipment and technology used in many of its mines, particularly in the coal sector. In 2020, the Indian government passed an ordinance allowing the commercial mining of coal and removing all restrictions on end-uses of mined coal. The ordinance also removed barriers to required experience for companies to participate in coal block auctions.

The increase in the use of coal and the rise in construction activities concerning railway tracks and roads through hilly areas across developing economies such as India are propelling the growth of the global mining equipment market. On the other hand, the high cost associated with mining equipment and strict government regulations on the import of mining equipment curtail the growth to some extent. Moreover, the growing adoption of digital mining technology by miners across the world is projected to pave the way for new opportunities in the industry.

Says Arvind K Garg, Senior Vice President and Head, L&T Construction and Mining Machinery, “The Indian construction Industry registered a CAGR of over 5 per cent in the last five years despite two years of disruptions during the pandemic. The Government’s focus on growth driven by Infra development and manufacturing is aiding demand growth. In addition to the various ongoing infrastructure projects under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) valued at $1.4 trillion for the period 2020-25, the Government of India has recently launched the $1.26 trillion Gati Shakti - National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity, an integrated infrastructure development plan for seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another and to facilitate the last mile connectivity to reduce travel time for people.”

He adds, “Coal continues to be the major demand driver in mining, followed by limestone and iron ore. India still imports a large quantity of coal and the demand for coal is expected to grow steadily till India has adequate alternative renewable energy options. Hence the GoI has taken the necessary steps to ramp up coal production to over 1 billion tonne by 2025. Coal India and its subsidiaries and commercial coal mining by MDOs are expected to drive the demand for mining equipment to new heights.”

“Mining is an important activity for India, as one of the fastest-growing economies of the world, there is increased pressure for metals/minerals to meet the demands of futuristic infrastructure growth in our country. The 'Make in India' initiative for expansion of the industrial sector would further increase the mineral resources demand. In the past few years, the Indian Government has adopted several measures to boost the domestic supply of coal and reduce dependency on imports. Over the forecast period (2022-26), India’s coal production is expected to post a CAGR of 7.5 per cent, to reach 1,153.3 MT by 2026, owing to the commencement of various upcoming projects, along with supportive regulatory reforms,” says Amit Banerjee, Chairman and Managing Director, BEML.

He adds, “With the mining sector being one of the core industries of the economy and with its year-to-year growth, the market for mining equipment looks to be positive growth. As far as BEML is concerned we have registered a growth of around 8 per cent in the mining and construction business vertical during the FY 2021-22 and we expect a growth of 10 per cent during the current year. Opportunities are booming with a few setbacks in the sector and the mining equipment industry is hopeful for a rise in demand due to new mining activities and government support in the infrastructure sector. However, there is a definite scope for improvement in the overall sector.”

Karthik Bala, Mining Regional Manager, Resource Industries Sales, Services and Technology, Caterpillar India, says “Caterpillar is closely working with customers to understand their equipment needs. We are trying to guide them into what could be the best mining solution. We are not only talking about machines but end-to-end solutions. We are giving them examples of benchmarking sites so that they can refer to them. From the perspective of the private sector and state-owned enterprises, we think there are a lot of opportunities for growth. The next 10 years will be an important period for mining in India.”

“The future looks promising. Growing infrastructure is the main factor driving India's population toward urbanisation. We require development in steel, cement, and power to sustain this. These three factors are the main ones influencing the mining sector in India. The growth is overwhelmingly excellent. In Epiroc, mining and construction are very evenly distributed. Fifty per cent of our revenues come from the mining industry, and 50 per cent from the infrastructure-related business. While all segments are performing well, the infrastructure category performs significantly better”, says Sujeet Kumar, Business Line Manager - Surface Division, Epiroc Mining India.

Says Rajesh Nath, Managing Director, VDMA India, “Mining would continue to play an important role in India. In actuality, mining accounts for 4 per cent to 5 per cent of our total GDP. Around 60 to 65 percent of India's electricity still comes from coal. By 2025, the Ministry of Coal wants to expand coal production from its current level of 740–750 million tonnes to one billion tonnes. India is still one of the few nations in the world where mining is still a major industry. Because of this, even German businesses are optimistic about India.”

He adds, “The export of German mining equipment to India increased by over 404 percent in the first seven months of this year. At IMME, we have 13 German companies that are upbeat about the potential India offers in the mining sector. German businesses are in a position to benefit both India and Germany by offering high-quality, safe technology and equipment for the mining industry. Energy efficiency is a further crucial factor. Indian businesses will soon release items that save energy.”

Digital mining on the rise

Adds Sujeet, “In comparison to other mining markets, India lags behind. A few participants have demonstrated strong interest and are catching up. We sold them technological solutions. Players like Tata Steel are integrating a lot of technology into their mines. Another corporation that heavily relies on technology is Hindustan Zinc. Even prominent Indian players like Adani are entering the fray. In addition, they are bringing about a significant technological change in the mining sector.”

He adds, “Loaders and trucks are the main electrified equipment in underground mining. They are developing battery-powered machines. Large-scale surface drilling equipment is already available. We also intend to develop equipment for modest surface drilling. Diesel engines in prime movers will be swapped out for electrification.”

Says Karthik Bala, “We are also showcasing Cat® MineStar Edge™, Caterpillar’s cutting-edge cloud-based, subscription managed application that creates an operational ecosystem that gives our customers near-real-time visibility to every aspect of their operation. It allows them to efficiently execute their mine plan and deliver optimal quality to the plant and to the surface. Edge makes it possible to measure, manage, analyse, and optimise our customers’ entire operations. The interesting point about the solution is that it is OEM agnostic. It doesn’t have to be Caterpillar equipment; it can work on any manufacturer’s equipment.”

He adds, “The fact that MineStar Edge solution doesn't require extensive infrastructure expenditure from the business makes it an attractive value proposition for our customers. Being a cloud-based solution, it just requires minimum hardware installations to function with any existing infrastructure. With this, data points such as fuel consumption, payload, asset utilisation, etc. are immediately posted into the cloud device, allowing the mine operator or mine owner to monitor how effectively the asset is being used.”

Sany India has emerged as a game changer in the construction and mining industry with their vast array of technologically superior products. One such product is SKT90S. Considered to be a mining monster in the true sense, SKT90S comes with a payload capacity of 60 tonnes and body volume of 33 cubic metres. The core advantages of efficiency, comfort, intelligence along with a superior payload capacity of 61t makes the SKT90S one of the most powerful, durable, reliable and efficient truck for our mining industry. 

The SKT90S is a dump truck with a 60 t payload, with a number of improvements over more basic models of this design including a hydro-pneumatic suspension to replace the traditional leaf spring structure, vastly improving the machine life and operator comfort of the machine as well as upping availability.

Dheeraj Panda, COO – Sales, Marketing & Customer Support, Sany Heavy Duty India, “We can track the machine and its functioning with the aid of mechatronics. Additionally, it interacts rather directly with the customer. The consumer is fully aware of the HMR, fuel consumption, and geo-coordinates of the machine it is using. Mechatronics assists in identifying any machine flaws early on so that a device failure is avoided. Many of our customers own a group of machines. We can provide them with an URL through which they can look at machines from the comfort of their office and also check the HMR, fuel consumption, and various other parameters.”

B&R’s modular X90 control and I/O system offer the perfect hardware platform. The system's heart is the X90 controller with a powerful ARM processor and up to 48 multifunction I/O channels. The modular controller can be equipped with optional I/Os, interfaces, or circuit boards – such as the one for condition monitoring. B&R’s mapp components are quick to configure and communicate with each other automatically – reducing the amount of actual programming to a minimum. This results in a very high-performance system that monitors machine health and informs operators in time to act.

Says Ashok Chhajer, Senior General Manager – OE Sales, BKT Tires, “Large mining trucks (LMTs), medium mining trucks (MMTs), and small mining trucks (SMTs) make up the OTR tyres category in the mining industry. The market for LMT tyres has the potential to expand rapidly owing to the increase in the demand for coal, which is one of the main energy sources in India. The requirement for coal in India is about 1.1 billion tonnes, but we are currently producing approximately 700 million tonnes. The increased demand has led to increased mining activity, thus increasing the demand for LMT tyres.”

CASE has various products for mining applications that are equipped with smart features and offer efficiency and maximum productivity. The products offered are the new Series C GR 865C Motor Grader, 2050M Crawler Dozer and CX220C excavator.

Said Tridib Majumder, Managing Director, Quaker Houghton India, “The products we have in the metals industry contribute to reducing friction, energy savings and improving finish primarily in cold rolling of flat steel products. We have rust-preventives to ensure there is no corrosion after the steel is rolled. For the benefit of both steel and non-ferrous customers, Quaker Houghton continuously improves our products and develops novel solutions.  For the Transportation OEMs, we have fluids that go into improving process efficiency once steel or iron is used to build a vehicle – car, 2-wheeler, 3-wheeler bus, or truck. We have fire-resistant hydraulic fluids for the mining segment. There are numerous hydrocarbon gases in subterranean mines which have a tendency of catching fire.  This can cause the entire equipment to be destroyed or damaged in the fire.”

Said Vivek Misra, Associate Vice President, Business Excellence and Transformation, Smartchem Technologies, “We produce technical ammonium nitrate in the mining chemicals industry, which is used to make explosives. These explosives are then used in the blasting of various minerals, such as coal, limestone, and iron ore, as well as in other infrastructure-related areas. Power generation also makes use of ammonium nitrate. By supplying infrastructure and energy, our two business sectors help the country flourish. We concur with the PM's goal of an Atmanirbhar Bharat. In order to support these efforts, we are attempting to expand our capabilities.”

SIT S.p.A. is the leader in the design and production of a vast and complete range of couplings that include torsionally rigid couplings, flexible couplings, zero backlash couplings, toothed couplings, couplings with shaft, bellows and disc couplings or to the client’s own design. Said Amit Nangre, Executive Director, SIT PTC India, “The technical complexity of what we offer from the catalogue gives it uniqueness. We promise to supply the customer with everything that is listed in the catalogue. Since our company has been in operation for 200 years, the couplings we produce have been put to the test for that entire time. The product must be excellent and benefit the customer if it is still on the market.”

He adds, “Currently, the market is huge for our products. We don’t offer a whole selection of products in India. As a product, the coupling has over Rs 100 crore in sales across all categories, types, and capacities. Our aim In India is to acquire a major market share. We are closely working with many OEMs to understand their requirements and give them a proper solution.”

Minimac Systems offers customised solutions for high-velocity oil flushing, chemical cleaning, purification, and testing. The company was established with the goal of giving the market sustainable solutions. Dr Yogesh Kumar, Director – Technical Service, Minimac Systems, says, “Minimac Systems provides both conventional and specialised products for the area of oil purifying systems. For a cost-effective solution to the issue of contamination in lubricating oils, product selection is done based on application of the requirement and the relevant technology.”

He adds, “We offer a variety of options, and they differ depending on the industry. The majority of the carbon flakes from coal mining are found in the oil. For every application, we have solutions that are unique. All of the solutions are produced in India. Several parts, including silicon chips and other electronics, are imported. The remaining components are all produced on-site. Only oil that costs no more than 20 per cent of the new oil can be recovered. The processed oil is reasonably priced. Equipment failure might result from oil contamination. With regular maintenance, we can at least cut down on breakdowns by 80 per cent.”

“At IMME, we are also promoting the dust and silica monitoring system through our UK-based OEM. The Dust Monitor utilises a next-generation optical Particle Counter (OPC) to deliver dramatically improved accuracy and repeatability of measurement over a diverse range of Particulate Matter (PM) sizes. With its advanced design, patented algorithm, dynamic flow, and multiple scatter angles, it delivers more valuable information than any other unit of its kind and now comes with a full on-device configuration to give maximum flexibility and accuracy of results,” Subrata Mitra, Group President, Vishwa Group of Companies.

He added, “We also provide rock monitoring system, which aids the mines in securely holding the roof in place. We have partnered with Australian and British business associates for this. The Rock Monitoring System continuously collects data to enable the optimisation of roof support planning while also monitoring the integrity of rock structures in underground mining and tunnelling and maintaining the highest levels of worker safety. The people at the surface may watch the movement of the strata underground in real-time from their PC and are not need to physically go underneath in order to inspect the strata because the underground data is relayed to the surface. As a result, the system is very safe and effective.”

Oilmax Systems, based in Pune, has been providing very unique and innovative products for oil and coolant conservation for more than 25 years. Ashutosh P Gokhale, Director, Oilmax Systems, said “We are manufacturers and exporters of industrial equipment, including hydraulic oil cleaning systems, vacuum-operated sump cleaners, floating/tramp oil separators, etc. The marine, mining, and automotive industries are just a few that use these items. With our products, there are no filter elements or consumer costs because they operate on centrifugal separations. The smallest of the contaminants is separated from the oil using centrifugal force, extending the life of the oil, filter, and machinery. These goods are entirely produced in India.”

Future outlook

The coal and iron ore mining is expected to be intensified as the government has promised ‘power for all’ in the next couple of years and the construction of infrastructure is expected to boom once again since the government is trying to achieve economic growth of 8 to 9 per cent in the next decade. The trend is moving towards more and more automation. As mining becomes intense, the demand for mechanisation is highly productive, safe, efficient and cost-effective machinery will increase.