Tech de­vel­op­ments in In­dian min­ing

Dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tions in In­dian mines are geared to make them safer, more ef­fi­cient and prof­itable

Financial Chronicle - - DIGITAL MINING FOR FUTURE -

THE gov­ern­ment, pub­lic sec­tor and pri­vate sec­tor play­ers in the In­dian min­ing sec­tor con­tinue to aim for growth, op­er­a­tional ef­fi­ciency and sus­tain­able min­ing through tech­nol­ogy de­ploy­ment, driven by

the Dig­i­tal In­dia, Skill In­dia and other cam­paigns. While tech­nol­ogy adop­tion is gain­ing pace, it still lags be­hind, for ex­am­ple, with only one per cent of the data gen­er­ated be­ing an­a­lysed.

As the in­dus­try pro­gresses to­ward com­plete in­te­gra­tion across the sup­ply chain, it has un­der­taken sev­eral smart ini­tia­tives. Be­low are the cur­rently known de­vel­op­ments rel­e­vant to ad­dress the above chal­lenges.


Large min­ing com­pa­nies are fo­cus­ing on adopt­ing tech­nol­ogy to achieve en­ter­prise in­te­gra­tion and or­gan­i­sa­tional ef­fi­ciency. While large pri­vate min­ing com­pa­nies have been early adopters, pub­lic sec­tor com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly adopt­ing tech­nol­ogy to achieve these ob­jec­tives.

Coal In­dia Lim­ited (CIL) has achieved sav­ings of Rs 800 crore through e-ten­der­ing and re­verse auc­tion on an e-pro­cure­ment plat­form.

The com­pany is lever­ag­ing ICT (in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy) for other busi­ness op­er­a­tions such as fi­nance, ma­te­rial man­age­ment, per­son­nel, pro­duc­tion, and sales and mar­ket­ing. CIL is also im­ple­ment­ing GPS / GPRS-based ve­hi­cle track­ing sys­tem, elec­tronic sur­veil­lance and RFID tagged trucks to re­strict unau­tho­rised ac­tiv­ity and en­hance pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Hin­dus­tan Cop­per has im­ple­mented an en­ter­prise re­source plan­ning (ERP) so­lu­tion across seg­ments such as man­u­fac­tur­ing, main­te­nance, mar­ket­ing, fi­nance and ma­te­ri­als. The cen­tralised busi­ness plat­form has en­abled faster de­ci­sion mak­ing and real-time vis­i­bil­ity as well as stan­dard­ised pro­cesses and man­age­ment sys­tems.

MECL is pro­gress­ing with a fullscale ERP im­ple­men­ta­tion to cen­tralise the data and man­age­ment sys­tem on a sin­gle plat­form.

Hin­dus­tan Zinc has placed or­ders for At­las Copco’s ad­vanced, semi-au­ton­o­mous equip­ment for five of its mines in north-west In­dia. This is in line with its ef­forts to im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity and safety while sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanc­ing the un­der­ground min­ing out­put.

North­ern Coal­fields, a CIL sub­sidiary, plans to use un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles (UAVs) for sur­vey and ground pro­fil­ing of 4 of its 10 mines. The miner has in­tro­duced op­er­a­tor in­de­pen­dent truck dis­patch sys­tem (OITDS) in five mega projects and laser scan­ner for sur­vey­ing and mon­i­tor­ing mines.

Vedanta has en­gaged Siemens for a dig­i­tal fleet cen­tre so­lu­tion, which will link its power plant as­sets in Pun­jab and Ch­hat­tis­garh to a mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion. This will re­duce un­planned out­ages, op­ti­mise costs and im­prove ef­fi­ciency. In ad­di­tion, for its power plants, the com­pany is con­sid­er­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy for pre­dic­tive main­te­nance and to bet­ter man­age­ment of fuel needs.

MSTC Lim­ited has launched “M3 Metal Mandi,” a por­tal for metal trans­ac­tions that aims to ben­e­fit mi­cro small and medium en­ter­prises (MSMEs) by bring­ing in trans­parency and a user­friendly in­ter­face for trans­ac­tions.

While dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is catch­ing pace with big min­ers, it is not as yet a pri­or­ity for the medium and small op­er­a­tors.


Ini­tia­tives to dig­i­talise var­i­ous stages of ex­plo­ration are un­der­way.

For ex­am­ple, Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia (GSI) launched an On­line Core Busi­ness In­te­grated Sys­tem, an open IT plat­form, to share qual­ity geo­sci­en­tific data through dig­i­tal chan­nels for so­cioe­co­nomic

and sci­en­tific gain. The com­pre­hen­sive data man­age­ment sys­tem will de­liver all base­line and ex­plo­ration pre-com­pet­i­tive data to its stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing Min­istry of Mines, na­tional and state level earth science or­ga­ni­za­tions / de­part­ments, in­dus­try and cit­i­zens.

The gov­ern­ment’s goal to fast­track big pic­ture projects will pave the way for break­out of vir­tual tech­nolo­gies, which will in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity and the suc­cess ra­tio.


Au­thor­i­ties are in­creas­ingly adopt­ing the dig­i­tal way to im­prove trans­parency in the man­age­ment, min­ing and trans­port of com­modi­ties, gover­nance and con­trol:

The Min­istry of Mines launched the Min­ing Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem (MSS), a satel­lite-based sur­veil­lance net­work to check il­le­gal min­ing via re­mote sens­ing ac­tiv­ity.

The Min­istry has part­nered with Bhaskaracharya In­sti­tute to curb il­le­gal min­ing across ma­jor min­er­als, by su­per­im­pos­ing all the maps of min­ing leases on digi­tised cadas­tral maps. Out of 4,000 mines of ma­jor min­er­als, digi­ti­sa­tion work of around 3,000 mines is re­ported to have been com­pleted.


In the past, pol­icy re­forms were seen as the go-to-so­lu­tion for chal­lenges re­lat­ing to reg­u­la­tory and pro­ce­dural un­cer­tain­ties. How­ever, as tech­nol­ogy evolves, its ap­pli­ca­tion can quick- fix some long pend­ing is­sues.

In one of the ini­tial moves to dig­i­tal­is­ing its sys­tems, the gov­ern­ment launched a web-based por­tal to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and bring trans­parency in ob­tain­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal and for­est clear­ances.

Other tech­nol­ogy op­tions in­clude the e-auc­tion ini­tia­tive and the pilot stage Min­ing Ten­e­ment Sys­tem (MTS). The MTS in­volves au­tomat­ing the en­tire min­eral con­ces­sion life­cy­cle start­ing from iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of ar­eas for min­ing / ex­plo­ration and end­ing with clo­sure of the mine, and con­nect­ing the var­i­ous stake­hold­ers for re­al­time trans­fer of elec­tronic files and ex­change of data.

None of the ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tion are more im­por­tant than mine safety. How­ever, the in­vest­ment therein has not been as ex­pected. Min­ing fa­tal­i­ties have not been elim­i­nated. How­ever, some min­ers have ini­ti­ated ef­forts, for in­stance:

Tata Steel’s Noa­mundi iron mine is the first mine in In­dia to launch “Drone Ap­pli­ca­tion in Mine Mon­i­tor­ing” (DAMM). Its ob­jec­tive is to in­spect safety zones and lease bound­aries, and mon­i­tor min­ing and re­claimed ar­eas as well as quarry and dump pro­fil­ing.

Hin­dus­tan Zinc is also look­ing at a host of smart so­lu­tions for its pri­or­i­ties of zero harm to peo­ple, host com­mu­ni­ties and en­vi­ron­ment. It is es­tab­lish­ing an un­der­ground Wi-Fi net­work across its mines to fa­cil­i­tate as­set track­ing, real-time vis­i­bil­ity of op­er­a­tions, tele re­mote op­er­a­tions and VoIP-based com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The in­dus­try needs to in­crease the adop­tion of safety tech­nolo­gies such as mo­bile prox­im­ity warn­ing sys­tems, wire­less methane sen­sors and in­er­tial nav­i­ga­tion to lo­cate trapped work­ers as well as cu­rated so­lu­tions. Min­ers can also con­sider tools such as mi­cro-seis­mics to lo­cate rock frac­tures and pre­dict im­pend­ing roof falls, rock bursts or any other haz­ards in work­ing area.

CMD of Coal In­dia, Gopal Singh (L) dur­ing the AGM of Coal In­dia in Kolkata on Thurs­day. — AP

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