MARC contracts are a great value differentiator and TIPL was perhaps one of the first service providers in the Indian mining industry to pioneer this concept with one of its esteemed clients Tata Steel; now, this has almost become a standard practice in equipment support in the mining segment, says GVR Murthy, Joint Managing Director, TIPL. In an exclusive interview with Equipment India, Murthy talks about the changing trends in the mining sector. Excerpts from the interviewHow do you look at the potential of mining industry and its major drivers? How is the growth in this segment reflected in the growth of the equipment industry?The mining segment is poised for good growth in the near future provided we are able to tackle environmental, forest and land acquisition issues.Demand for coal to meet thermal power requirements and infrastructure development which would necessitate capacity expansions in the steel / iron ore and cement / limestone industry would be the potential drivers in the mining segment.Brownfield and greenfield expansions in mining is associated with potential demand for heavy earthmoving machinery in all segments - blast hole drill, off / on highway dumpers, hydraulic excavators / shovels / loaders, conveyors, as well as crushing and screening equipment.What is the current trend in mining equipment demand in India?With large-size mines being planned particularly in the coal segment where production targets are more than 15 mtpa, mining companies are also upgrading to a higher class of equipment size. Though the initial capex for these size of equipment is higher, it ultimately benefits by being able to deliver lower cost of ton mined and better traffic and equipment management at site.We have already seen the Indian mining sector deploying 240 T class of dumpers with matching 42 cu m electric shovels / 34 cu m hydraulic excavators and support equipment like 850 hp dozers and graders with 24 ft width blade.What are the products and services offered by TIL & TIPL for the mining segment?TIL through its wholly owned subsidiary TIPL, offers the entire range of products from the Caterpillar global mining stable to the industry. These include off-highway dumpers starting from 40 T capacity up to 400 T, wheel loaders, wheel and tracked dozers and motor graders. TIL-manufactured (under Material Handling Division) cranes of different capacities are being used widely in the mining industry. In the near future, we would also be able to cater to the crushing and screening requirements of our customers by being able to offer crushing plants and screens which are going to manufactured in our recently commissioned facility in Kharagpur, West Bengal.We offer a comprehensive range of services to our customers depending on their site requirements. These can vary from customer support agreements , annual maintenance contracts , fleet management services to long term annual maintenance and repair contracts over the life time of the equipment.Could you tell us how successful the concept of MARC, introduced by TIPL in the mining segment, has been?MARC contracts are a great value differentiator and TIPL was perhaps one of the first service providers in the Indian mining industry to pioneer this concept with one of its esteemed clients Tata steel which now has almost become a standard practice in equipment support in the mining segment. Practically all major mining equipment orders from customers in the government sector like Coal India are supported with a back-to-back MARC contract covering at least 70 per cent of the life of the equipment. The same practice is also successfully replicated in the private segment. Mining companies recognise the value addition MARC contracts offer to their operations.Could you throw some light on the changing trends in terms of the operating capacity and efficiency, and focus on environmental issues and safety features?As mentioned earlier, with size of projects getting bigger there is an increasing trend of use / shift to higher class and size of equipment for cost efficiencies. Environmental and safety norms are getting more stringent with role of the regulatory DGMS becoming even more evident.Safety features like proximity warning devices on HEMM to prevent accidents in mines are now becoming mandatory features on equipment now which was not there earlier.What are the prospects for long-term rentals of major mining equipment in this segment?With the increasing demand of commodities worldwide, we anticipate possibilities of supply side constraints in the future. Additionally during the opening up / initial phases of mine development there are opportunities of deployment of rental equipment. With the entry of international mining contractors into India who may prefer to go in for rentals for local contracts can throw up additional opportunities in this sector.