Arun Misra, CEO, Hindustan Zinc, in an interaction with Sudhakar Singh, Editor, Industry Outlook, shares his insights on the evolution of mining industry and concerns pertaining to surging cost, environmental impact, and more.
Mines are increasingly getting deeper with more complex ore bodies, rising energy costs and infrastructure shortages, causing mining companies to be under pressure to control costs while improving efficiency and performance. How do you see this change happening in the mining industry?
It is true that no mine can forever remain on the surface. However, with increasing depth of mines, the cost of exploration
decreases. For example — the cost of exploration from surface is comparatively higher as we often have to explore up to one kilometer depth. Whereas for the underground mines, we develop the mine in the first place for production of minerals
and in the later part we use that development to perform drilling from underground. Hence, as we drill from underground, we consequently end up saving the cost of drilling.
Secondly, as a mine descends further, we have to reduce the dependency on trucks to carry out the minerals from the ores. The miners often have to deploy shafts that carry the minerals from the bottom of the mines. This whole process in turn drastically decreases the cost of mining. For instance, at both of our mines - Rampura Agucha and Sindesar Khurd , we have invested in development of a material winding process that not only has helped us reduce the cost of mining but also decrease the requirement of equipment.
At Hindustan Zinc, we are looking forward to shifting our energy dependency from coal to renewable sources by deploying the electric battery-based equipment and vehicles. I think these will be the key enablers helping us ensure that we stay profitable as we go deeper in the underground, while continuing to remain a low cost operator.
With the growth of the electrical and electronics industry, the demand for zinc and lead is rising rapidly. How is Hindustan Zinc adapting to this change in zinc and lead mining in India?
Hindustan Zinc is the most prominent zinc and lead mining organization in India. We possess the capability of meeting the nation’s entire demand for zinc. Currently, India consumes nearly 80 to 85 percent of the total 750 - 800 KT zinc that we produce. While the balance requirement for zinc is met through import.
Moving ahead, as the government strives to turn India Atmanirbhar, the domestic production of different components such as mobile phones, EV’s, lead acid batteries, and more, will propel the demand for zinc and Lead in India. Furthermore, increasing infrastructure projects like development of the bridges, railway lines, etc will also boost the demand for these minerals in India.
Sliding productivity amid surging cost remains one of the most pressing challenges for the mining industry. How can this be addressed?