Epiroc offers a full portfolio of high-tech mining equipment in the global market. The company is keen on the Indian market with its wide range of products and solutions. Jerry Andersson, Managing Director, Epiroc Mining India, shares more.
What is the current scenario of mining in India?
The mining market in India is growing, but at a slower pace compared to other industry segments due to stringent regulations and environment related challenges. Though auctioning of coal and iron ore mines is picking up, it may take some time for these mines to be operational as the whole process needs to go through a series of regulatory frame works. The mining policy was renewed in 2015, though a lot has to do for further growth of mining in India. At the same time, mining companies need to take the responsibility to produce minerals with less impact on environment. We as the provider of mining equipment make sure that every equipment that comes out is better than the previous ones. Privatisation of commercial coal mining will definitely help the mining equipment manufacturers. But ultimately it is a costly business so that initially small players may be a bit hesitant to enter the market. So, I don't see any big difference in short term because it needs some time for the market to get ready with the new system. But over long term, certainly there is an opportunity for the market to grow.
What are the key challenges you face in the Indian mining industry?
As a new company, we had to face many challenges. Finding the rightly skilled people is the major challenge we face in mining industry. We need to train and certify the people at various levels, not only for machine operation, but also for service and maintenance of equipment.
With Coal India plans to acquire more machinery in the next 2-3 years, how do you look at this opportunity?
We do sell our machines to Coal India, especially blast hole drill rigs manufactured in India and larger drills that we import from the US. We are monitoring and participating in tenders. We are confident on bidding the tenders successfully in spite of competition as we have established a name and reputation in the market. In the long run, we see an opportunity to be a good partner with Coal India.
What is your strategy to stay ahead of the competition?
There are plenty of competitors in the market and we take major steps to ensure that we are leading in the market. For this, we introduce new equipment and strengthen our performance in Indian market. We are the only company to make 30 tonne Minetrucks in India. So it is always our forte now and we come back with new high quality equipment making sure that we bring value in formal digitalisation, helping the customer to perform better. We have introduced a lot of 'smart rigs' in the market which have been very successful.
We also have a very high focus on aftermarket services, making sure that the customer really gets complete benefit. Being close to the customer is key to improve our products, services, quality, processes and supply chain.
So aftermarket support and being close to our customers are critical for our growth in the market. We are committed to Indian market which is why we have a big service network with over 600 service engineers across India.
What are your future plans for mining market in Indian?
India has a great potential in mining. We will be there with our customers in their expansion plans with our vast range of equipment. We are monitoring the new mining opportunities that are emerging. There are also many developments happening in construction and infrastructure sector. So we are working closely with all players to understand the new opportunities and be present with our products and services. We are rightly equipped for that. We will be strengthening our product line and introducing new products in future. Our plan is to add 2-3 products this year and will be coming out with new products next year also.
Role of technology in sustainable mining
'From a safety standpoint, mining is a risky process. But technology can play a crucial role on safety in mining operations. For e.g., we at Epiroc have introduced a technology to remotely monitor and control the equipment. The fully autonomous machines can perform remotely. In Australia, one of our customers is operating 20 such big blast hole drilling machines remotely, sitting about 1,300 km away from the mining site. So, automation eventually brings in safer environment underground. We also have a major presence in battery technology. When mines go deeper and deeper, the need for ventilation will be more, and 70-80 per cent of the oxygen underground is used by engines. Using battery technology can improve the working environment underground and at the same time, reduces the need for exhaust ventilation. So our product development plans are heavily towards automation and battery-driven equipment, and will contribute to sustainable mining environment. Demand for this technology has started coming from India now. We already have a few requests and are working closely with customers on this. However, it needs the necessary infrastructure such as facility to charge the batteries for which we have a solution that already fits in the existing set-up of any mine. It requires a commitment from the customer and also from us to be there because this is a new technology. On a global perspective, battery technology is gaining momentum and will have a huge impact in the coming years. In India also the battery technology is expected to make a big difference in the next couple of years.'