Caterpillar products and services are designed to meet the high production and low cost per tonne demands of the industry. Rahul Jain, Mining Region Manager, Surface Mining and Technology, Caterpillar India, talks more on the industry trends and the company's products and solutions to the market.
How do you look at the current mining scenario in India?
The mining industry opportunity in India looks positive, driven largely by the infrastructure development activities of the Government of India. With infrastructure development projects like Sagarmala, Bharatmala, affordable housing, and the Smart Cities Mission, the demand for raw materials like iron and steel are expected to increase. The other driver is the need for access to reliable energy in all parts of the country where coal will play a key role. This requires an increasing focus on coal mining from both the public and private sector miners.
The reform measures undertaken by the government such as opening of commercial coal mining for private mining companies, amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act to improve transparency in allocation of mineral resources, encouraging investment in mining sector and promoting sustainable mining practices will aid growth of the mining industry in India.
The increase in demand and the creation of a conducive environment for mining are expected to improve the scenario for mining in India. According to BMI research, India's iron ore production is expected to increase at 5 per cent annually during 2016-2020 and hit 198.8 million tonnes by 2020. The future of this industry looks bright.
With privatisation of commercial coal mining, do you see some positive impact on mining equipment industry?
Privatisation of commercial coal mining could have a positive impact on the mining equipment business. This move by the Government of India is expected to contribute to the growth of the mining equipment industry.
World-class mining practices - including high technology resulting in cost-effective volume mining - is expected to both increase customer competitiveness and drive demand for more technologically advanced equipment for safe and efficient mining, to the industry's benefit.
What business opportunities do you see in Coal India's decision to acquire mining equipment in the coming years?
Coal India's decision to acquire additional mining equipment offers a significant growth potential. The decision to acquire mining equipment worth Rs 120-130 billion in the next 2-3 years was taken by Coal India to meet its ambitious coal production of 1 billion tonnes by 2020 and is a welcome move for the mining equipment industry. Caterpillar products and services are designed to meet the high production and low cost per tonne demands of the industry. Since this large mining equipment needs to be supported over its long life cycle, we also see an opportunity of parts and service sales.
What is the demand-supply scenario of equipment in Indian mining sites?
The demand and supply scenario for mines depends on the scale of operations at the mining sites. With mining majors planning to acquire higher capacity and technologically improved equipment, more supply requirement is anticipated in the near future. Caterpillar has the full range of mining equipment for surface as well as underground mining. The company is equipped to meet the demand.
What are the new products and technologies offered in mining?
Cat MineStar is a mining technology solution designed for mine operations and equipment management. The Cat MineStar system is comprised five configurable features (Fleet, Terrain, Detection, Health and Command) and encompasses a wide range of capabilities, including autonomous, semi-autonomous and remote-control equipment systems, proximity detection and more. Now available on a range of new equipment in the Caterpillar product line, it spans numerous mine site assets for surface and underground operations. These technologies are integrated into a seamless system that allows the customer to see their whole operation at a glance, and then drill down to the individual asset level as required.
The Cat autonomous technology solution supports fully unmanned mine site operations - a system in which machines, technologies, communication networks, safety systems and software work seamlessly, resulting in huge gains in productivity. Currently, this technology is being used in mining in remote areas of Australia and Latin America, and there is interest for this technology in India as well, particularly for underground mines of coal and zinc.
Caterpillar has a wide range of loading and hauling solutions through its product line designed and manufactured to suit a variety of applications. Enhancements in the product line and technology are reflective of the changing demands in the industry and the customer's needs. This change is seen not only in the products but also in the aftermarket solutions that are offered by Caterpillar dealers over the life cycle of the equipment. The overall intent is to lower the cost per mass or volume of material moved. Improving fuel efficiencies, deploying electric drives alongside mechanical drives, and extending oil and component lives through proper condition monitoring are a handful of the efforts that are put to make Caterpillar the preferred solution provider to mining customers.
What are the key challenges faced by mining equipment industry in India? How do you look at the growth opportunities?
We look at the opportunity for growth in the India mining industry positively. There is strong demand for equipment globally, so we work in collaboration with our customers and dealers to anticipate equipment needs and stay ahead of the product development curve to ensure solutions are available when customers need them.
What is the year-on-year growth trajectory you project for mining equipment?
The domestic mining equipment industry is on a high-growth trajectory. According to ICRA, the domestic mining and construction equipment industry is estimated to grow by up to 20 per cent in 2018, supported largely by government-backed projects. The Indian mining and construction equipment (MCE) industry is expected to report another year of strong performance and in the calendar year of 2018 it is estimated to grow by 17-20 per cent.