India’s largest and world’s second-largest zinc-lead miner, Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) with more than 50 years of operational experience gives the highest priority to the safety of its people and conservation of scarce natural resources through technology and innovation. With a reserve base of 150.3 million MT and an average zinc-lead grade of 7.8% and mineral resources of 297.6 million MT, their mine life is over 25 years. Hindustan Zinc’s fully integrated zinc operations currently hold 78% market share in India’s primary zinc industry. During an email interaction with Nitisha Dubey; Arun Misra, CEO, Hindustan Zinc Limited highlights the scope of automation in the mining business.
Kindly elaborate Hindustan Zinc and its special offerings.
We are operating responsibly with over five decades of experience and expertise in mining and smelting and India’s only and world’s leading zinc-lead-silver producer. As a socially and environmentally committed corporate, with focused responsibility towards value creation for all stakeholders, we stand out as an organization rooted in business excellence. Technology and innovation are the key propellers of our unprecedented growth, while people safety and natural resource conservation are the mantras of our holistic value proposition.
We are among the Top 15 CSR spenders and have spent Rs. 214 cr on our various community service initiatives impacting the lives of more than 7 Lakh people.
We are proud to say that we are the 1st ever producer to sell non-ferrous metals online at real-time prices. The Company’s total metal production for FY21 stands at 715,445 tonnes of Zinc, 214,399 tonnes of Lead and 706 tonnes of Silver, which are all being de-bottlenecked to achieve a total metal production capacity of 1.2 MTPA.
We are also committed to net-zero by 2050 and plan to invest $1 billion in the next five years for turning the mining process green. We have been ranked 1st in Asia-Pacific and globally 5th in Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2021 amongst Mining & Metal companies.
We take pride in having some of the best-in-class people practices and employee-centric initiatives, which have certified Hindustan Zinc as – ‘Great Place to Work 2021’, ‘Company with Great Managers 2021’ by People Business and the People First HR Excellence Award.
The company has also won the ‘Industry Leadership Award – Base, Precious and Specialty Metals’ at the prestigious S&P Global Metal Awards and won 1st Bronze Medal, and got featured in S&P Global Sustainability Yearbook for 5th consecutive year.
How Hindustan Zinc is transforming the mining business by adopting automation?
We recognized the importance of innovative technology since our inception and therefore always kept technology at the forefront of its operations. Robotics and automation became part of Hindustan Zinc’s operational ethos when for the majority of the industry these were just buzz words. The company leveraged the best-in-class technologies, backed by automation and analytics, to create an enabling environment for our business growth.
Having pursued plant operations automation for very long, we are now benefiting when major activities in the plants are being operated remotely with limited human interventions. Ore beneficiation and Smelter operations at Hindustan Zinc have been using Advanced Process Control to automate the bulk of the mineral processing and metal extraction operations since the late 2000s. With the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, these systems have evolved from utilizing static model set points to constantly updating cloud-based solutions with the continuous stream of data. This has enabled the plants to operate at its normal capacity while maintaining the social distancing norms.
Kindly share your points on Automation, Digitization and Robotics.
Robotics, Automation, and Data Analytics are major tools of Digital transformation. And we have now reached a pre-eminent level when it comes to the adoption of these technologies. They have an immense potential to disrupt the status quo and exponentially reduce cost and improve the efficiency of the process. Our organization is being in the forefront of change and the beneficiary of being the first mover in the adoption of technology and we will continue to be a trailblazer for embracing newer technology solutions.
What will be your future marketing strategy for the growth of the company?
With the world and industry increasingly moving towards digitalization and automation, Hindustan Zinc has already pioneered a digital marketplace for non-ferrous metal buying with our Evolve platform. We always make sure to have healthy interactions with our customers to understand them better and have innovative solutions to continue smooth operations, while unlocking & delivering exceptional value. In optimizing ease of doing business, the vision of 100% sales through our e-commerce platform is something that we look forward to. This will ensure a more democratic, transparent & equal business relationship.
According to you, how digital transformation can help the mining industry to grow and what kind of challenges the industry is facing?
The nature of mining industries is constantly shifting, thanks to the technological revolution. Digitalization helps companies to build algorithms wave to streamline efficiency, right from exploration to mines to operations. Our digital initiatives are centered on enhancing our production and safety so that we can take our operations to the next generation. Our aim is to develop intelligent processes that are smart, connected, wired and analytical. The only challenge one faces during a digital transformation is the one that any pioneering move faces – that is we do everything from scratch. From identifying to developing innovative solutions, the initial phase tends to have skill and expertise issues where there aren’t many resources with the relevant expertise.
How was the year 2020-21 in terms of your business? What will be your future plans?
Our unwavering focus on 3S – Safety, Sustainability and Smart Mining, helped us deliver unprecedented outcomes in the form of record volumes and profitability during FY2021. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, our company delivered one of its best years in terms of operational and cost efficiencies. These outcomes were the result of the various targeted initiatives we took through the year.
Revenue from operations, including other operating income, was Rs. 22,629 crores in FY2021, an increase of 22% year-on-year. We have completed all the major projects to build the capacity of 1.2 MTPA of mined metals. In FY-21, we generated a record ore production of 15.45 million tonnes despite the shutdowns in the operation during the COVID-19. We successfully concluded the year with highest ever metal production up by 7%, and silver production of 706 tonnes. Our company’s reserve life is extended to almost 10 years from 8 years.
We are very excited about our next phase of expansion to take mining capacity from 1.2 MTPA to 1.35 MTPA. We are committed for net-zero by 2050 and we plan to invest $1 billion in the next five years for turning the mining process green.