As far as the coal mines are concerned, there is a huge potential. As regards mineral mines like iron ore, the market is decent. These are the main major sectors of mining, and I don't think the possibilities are very high. Equipment with high manpower requirements, or equipment that can be easily controlled or remote-controlled equipment will be in greater demand.
Which equipment do you think will drive the demand in the mining segment?
My domain is processing and I can answer only from the processing point of view. Basically, what will be driving the industry will be drilling, blasting, huge loaders, and excavators. High-productivity equipment will be the major driver. It has always been, but the demand for such improvements will be even better when the manpower requirement is less.
How IoT and digital technologies are evolving in processing?
The control systems in the plant don’t require much human intervention. Such systems (IoT and embedded systems) will be very much important, as they can be monitored from long distances – even from the central control points.
How do you ensure preventive and periodic maintenance of your equipment? What are the key maintenance practices to be followed for the upkeep of the equipment?
The demand now is for higher availability of equipment. The material for construction should be such that the wear part will be lower because mining is a very harsh industry, and it requires frequent replacement of parts. So, anything which can improve the quality of the worn parts is definitely in demand.
As far as the Indian scenario is concerned, especially in iron ore or coal, coming to a restriction or the movement of material, you cannot take it out of the mines. In Goa, there was only one mine from where all the mines were feeding the project. Now, they have put a restriction on the amount of material you can transfer, including raw materials. So now they have to go into the concept of modular plants. The modular plants should be skid mounted, and they should have a very high recovery ratio of water. The power should be lower. The movement of material within the system has to be such that you don't require huge power. So, the plants have to be complex.
What are the major challenges faced in the sector that you are in?
In the mineral sector, the grades are becoming lower and lower. The one challenge is recovering from the very finds. Due to climatic conditions, there are a lot of restrictions due to power. The power component of any machine is very important. The cost per tonne of power should be low.
As I told you, in control systems, the safety of manpower is a big issue. These are the various challenges, which has to be incorporated into the design of the plant itself.
How important is R&D for your company?
R&D plays a very important role. It develops the process. For recovering from low grade, the R&D has to develop the process of optimum grade recovery ratio. The second is the material of construction. For example, equipment manufacturers have to spend a lot of time and money on developing proper equipment.
Performance-wise, how was the year 2022 for the company? What are your plans for 2023?
So far it has been good. Next year should be even better as the government is spending a lot on infrastructure.
How about sustainability in the mining industry?
Our focus is on sustainability. Sustainability has two aspects. One is that the mining has to be based on lower grades. You have to mine lower grades and produce good-quality materials. The second aspect is recovering from the earlier. Apart from this, there should be good technology, minimum water requirements, minimum power requirement, lower noise level, etc.