Bright prospects are foreseen for practically every major and minor mineral mined in India today. Ambitious infrastructure and power generation expansion and a plan to boost manufacturing are expected to spur demand for minerals and mining equipment.
Near-term expansions will span both, underground and surface mining. 'In underground mining, increasing mine depths and depleting ore grades are increasing demand for specialised equipment,' says Animesh Nandy, Business Line Manager, Drilling Solutions, Epiroc Mining India. 'Hindustan Zinc is the key driver of demand for underground mining equipment and it has major expansion plans.' The biggest growth, however, will be seen in surface mining. 'As open pits are associated with relatively lower costs, surface mining is gaining its share in India across all major and minor minerals, with even deposits that were earlier considered suitable for underground mining now being planned with surface mining methods, resulting in deeper surface mines and those with higher stripping ratios,' says Nandy.
User Wish-list: New-age Technology for Mining
'Progressive Indian mining companies have not only graduated to full mechanisation but are now using best-in-class intelligent equipment and services available globally, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and man-less automated underground mining, wherein, the operator sitting in a control room at the surface or even in an office can run loaders, drills and trucks on autopilot or operator-guided mode,' says Subhasis Das, Vice President, Sales Area-India, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology. 'These companies are aspiring to have a digital underground mine in the near future.'
'We are eager to see the application of IoT and artificial reality and virtual reality in mining,' says GVS Narayana Reddy, COO, VPR Mining Infrastructure. 'With IoT, we anticipate automation on a bigger scale, especially for preventive maintenance and better safety and performance parameter data. We expect artificial reality and virtual reality to emerge as game-changers in mine planning and implementation, and to help train human capital in simulated tough mine and high-intensity operation conditions.'
Continuous Mining Technology
Joy Global India offers a full set of equipment for room and pillar mining, including continuous miners, shuttle cars, feeder breakers and bolting equipment. Why is this equipment invaluable for underground coal mining?
'With continuous mining room and pillar equipment, you can achieve a certain output of coal with roughly one-third the number of people you would need to deploy for the conventional blast mining method and at about one-third the cost,' says K Venkateswarlu, Project Officer (Agent), Shanthikhani Long Wall Project, Singareni Collieries Company (SCCL), Mandamarri Area, Telangana, who has been associated with continuous mining technology at SCCL for the past 10 years.
According to Venkateswarlu, the ability to operate the equipment from 20-25 m away makes continuous miner operation far safer than drilling and blasting, where persons work within 1-2 m of the active working face.
Hybrid Operations Komatsu's latest 2650CX hybrid shovel combines diesel and electric power to provide the best of both electric mining shovels and hydraulic excavators. The hybrid architecture with switch reluctance hybrid drive facilitates multiple dig paths, reduces the fuel required for digging, and extends reach and mobility.
'Additions to hybrid technology help users save on operating costs, increase reliability and reduce emissions significantly,' notes Shib Bhowmik, Country Head, Joy Global India, Komatsu Mining Corp Group. Why is this important?
Productivity in mining is an outcome of fuel-efficiency, notes GVS Narayana Reddy, COO, VPR Mining Infrastructure. 'So, machines using less fuel per unit of output are desirable, and machines driven by electric drives that minimise power cost and wastage are ideal.'
Prospects Emerging from Mining for Road and Rail Construction
Quarries and aggregates are presenting significant demand for backhoes, wheel loaders and excavators, says Amit Bansal, Sales Director, Building Construction Products Division, Caterpillar India. Bansal reckons India has an annual market of 45,000 backhoes, 3,000-3,500 wheel loaders and 25,000-30,000 excavators.
'Road construction per day has increased significantly in these past few years, from about 10 km to 30 km, and the demand for aggregate has boosted demand for backhoes, 3-5-tonne wheel loaders and 20-tonne excavators,' says Bansal.
'Increased demand for aggregates and ballasts has significantly increased demand for Sandvik stationary and mobile crushers,' says Subhasis Das, Vice President, Sales Area-India, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology.
Caterpillar's latest Hindustan 2021D wheel loader features higher lift height, pilot-operated hydraulics, a more powerful and fuel-efficient engine, air-conditioning option and overall improved operator environment.
A new 426F2 backhoe loader is a global product with rich features. 'The machines deliver a better value package for our customers,' adds Bansal.
High capacity mining equipment