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Indian Cement Industry: Challenges Ahead

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Indian cement industry has made great strides during the last two decades. It has achieved place of pride in innovations especially in the use of alternate fuels, overall energy and fuel efficiency and control of particulate emissions to surpass the international environmental norms.A K Jain a ‘Bharat Gaurav’ recipient has played significant role in revision of IS 456 :2000 and formulation of various codes on cement, fly ash, ggbs and RMC.The installed capacity of cement in the country has grown at an average rate of 8.3 per cent CAGR during the period 1991 to 2011 while production increased at the rate of 8 per cent during the same period. The Table gives the installed capacity and production of cement between 1991-2011.Thermal EnergyThe thermal energy consumption has seen marginal improvement over the years. Against the world’s best ranges between 680-690 Kcal/kg clinker, India’s average stands at 730-742 Kcal/kg clinker (26 plants). Though some plants are able to match the best average, industry as a whole has challenges before it to further improve on this account.Electric Energy EfficiencyThe average consumption of electric energy (26 plants) was 77 Kwh/t cement. The electric consumption has virtually reached a plateau and shows very little improvement. The best operated plants have brought down the consumption in the range of 65-68 Kwh/t cement, however, industry as a whole has scope for further improvement.Environmental PerformanceThe National Ambient Air Quality Requirement as per CPCB for particulate matter (PM) or dust emission of more than 200 tpd, is 150 mg/Nm3 and 50 mg/Nm3 for new cement plants. The modern cement plants are able to adhere to these norms. The new generation plants with capacity 8000 tpd and above are even excelling the norms.Challenges Ahead: LimestoneLimestone will continue to be the life line of cement manufacture. For 350 million tonnes installed targeted capacity by the end of XI Plan (2012), nearly 600 million tonne of cement grade limestone will be needed annually. Keeping in view the rapid expansion, the NCB initiated the task of preparation of national inventory of cement grade limestone. The proven category reserves are only 22,476 million tonne which are likely to last for next 35 to 40 years at the present rate of production. Sizable reserves are located in inaccessible areas, difficult terrains reserved forests, bio-zones and coastal regulatory zones, etc. Apart from limited availability of measured reserve for greenfield projects, about 27 per cent of the total reserves are of marginal grade which can only be utilised with sweetener or after up-gradation through beneficiation. Availability of cement grade limestone will be becoming a major challenge for the cement industry in the future.CoalAvailability of coal is proving another bottleneck for the cement industry. The coal demand of cement industry by 2012-13 is estimated to touch 39.72 million tonne as against 13.47 million tonne in 2000-01. During the last decade, coal demand has gone up almost four times. The infrastructure deficiencies at ports are causing problems in importing coal and availability of indigenous coal to cement industry is not assured. The cost of coal is escalating every year and posing challenge before the cement industry. The situation is likely to aggravate in future.Blending Materials: Fly ashAlthough large quality of fly ash is generated in India, in many cases the location of thermal power plants is far away from cement plants and in the absence of proper infrastructure for transportation and handing of fly ash, most of it remains unutilised. About 175 million tonne of fly ash was generated during the 11th Five Year Plan period. The cost of fly ash is continuously increasing due to transportation and permission given to thermal power plants to charge for it instead of giving free. The mega thermal plants located in East UP, West Bengal, North Bihar and generally in Eastern part of India have very few cement plants in close vicinity. The availability of good quality fly ash at reasonable cost is also going to be major factor before the cement industry in coming years.ChallengesAt present, the cement industry is facing two fold problems of high input costs and infrastructural weakness. The costs of key inputs coal, power and transport by rail or road are spiraling year-on-year. The coal is of poor quality, with high ash and low calorific value content. There is need to introduce competition for improving quality, regularity in supply and reduced prices. The power from public utilities is of poor quality due to frequent power cuts and fluctuating voltage.Transport by rail or road is a cost-intensive component and amounts to almost 15-20 per cent of the delivered cost to the consumers. The railway tariff is high and need to be rationalised for an essential product like cement. Road transport on the other hand, provides limited alternative because of inadequacy of road network and rising cost of road transport due to continuously rising fuel cost. Inland water transport is eco-friendly and cheap mode especially for bulk commodities like cement. Coastal shipping and inland waterways will help in bringing down the transportation cost.To Increase Use Of CementCement is not the end-use product for the consumer. Concrete and mortar are the real end-products. Use of concrete at present is very low, about 0.5 tonne per head annually against World’s average of 1.0 tonne. Use of concrete and cement based products need to be promoted especially in the following sectors to increase the demand of cement.

  • Concrete roads
  • White topping over existing bitumen roads
  • Cement-based bricks/blocks for walling in lieu of clay bricks
  • Pre-fab components for mass housing in lieu of conventional systems for roofing, flooring, walling etc.
  • Cement concrete lining to canals to reduce seepage losses.
  • Development of inland water ways and linking of rivers

The average consumption of cement per head is very low in India, in the range of 180-190 kg while world average is about 400 kg and in developed countries it is 600-800 kg. Cement-concrete is more durable than other conventional materials and the use of concrete in construction will bring down the life cycle of civil works and will be more eco-friendly and sustainable.

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Concrete

Sustainable Mining for the Future

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ICR presents a case for responsible reporting across the mining supply chain.

The importance of mining, in times of sustainability reporting, is rising in stature. The rise of mining output is not waning but growing and the share of construction mineral ore in all of this still remains close to 50% of the entire extractive output. 

It is estimated that the global combined extractive output in mining is going to grow to 167gt in 2060, from the 2019 statistics of 92 gt. Out of this 27% is biomass, 15% is fossil fuel, 9% is metal ores and the balance is non-metallic minerals, bulk of which goes to the construction industry. While sustainability considerations would be driving most of the future growth, most notably, metals will be needed for electric storage batteries (eg. for electric cars), which require aluminium, cobalt, iron, lead, lithium, manganese and nickel but also for other relevant technologies, including those used for the production of wind turbines and solar panels; far greater amounts of metals are needed for clean energy production than the traditional energy production from fossil fuels. Thus the growth in metals for sustainability will offset the drop in extraction that would stem from growth in recycling. 

An overview of the mining sector

Mining for non-metallic minerals, from where the construction industry sources all its inputs, perhaps falls under the ASM (artisanal and small-scale mining), which has still remained labour intensive and suffers from safety issues all across, the developed world and developing, all have the similar challenges to grapple with. Efforts to increase automation, mechanisation and digitisation also come with the fair share of demands from the local community, which can hardly be neglected. While Large Scale Mining (LSM) is moving towards mechanisation and automation with minimum labour resources, the focus is increasingly shifting towards partnerships on supply chains that connect local procurement partners and the community at large to the external markets. 

One of the significant developments has been the shift towards battery-electrification of mobile equipment in the mines to the complete automation of all mining equipment with Net zero targets in focus. There are man-less mines in existence already where underground operations are being orchestrated through battery-electric equipment remotely connected through control systems. The partnerships between mining companies and the mining equipment OEMs is ensuring a smooth transition in this area that will take the use of fossil fuels in mines to a negligible proportion (mostly as consumables) in the near future. This however calls for a skills inventory crossover, that would need larger hand holding with the local government and other institutions as well as the local communities.

Sustainability in mining

The goals of sustainable development in mining would include transparency as a key theme between a large pool of actors that constitute and connect the upstream to the downstream supply chain partners (supplier, trader, smelter refiner, component producer, contract manufacturer, end user, intermediaries, agents and transporters). This would also entail collaboration with governments and across the supply chain to support a circular economy to minimise inputs to waste from the mining process and to increase the reuse, recycling and repurposing of raw materials and products to improve sustainable consumption. The traceability systems also ensure that the level of information that is shared and disclosed along the value chain. They illustrate the chain of custody, which is the sequence of stages and custodians the product is transferred to through the supply chain.

The transparency of reporting across the entire supply chain is at the core of this and this has two parts:

  • Minimise resource use and waste (use of water, energy, land and chemicals and minimise production of effluent, waste and chemicals) and also purpose waste rock
  • Incorporate life cycle thinking (extend responsible sourcing to all suppliers and collaborate to connect the consumer with sustainable raw materials).

India-centric big picture

India as a country has progressed well in SDG Reporting and Sustainable Development in the mining sector that accounts for 2.5% of the country’s GDP. Many of the key companies of the sector are SOEs. India is abundant in natural mineral resources and the country is one of the world’s main producers of iron ore and bauxite. India is the third largest producer of coal, behind the US and China. In construction related extractive minerals, India is the world’s second largest producer. Section 135 of India’s Companies Act on CSR and Regulation for large public companies to produce Business Responsibility Reports, makes it imperative for Large Mining companies (both metallic and non-metallic extractive ones) to be part of the SDG reporting, that cover diverse range of sustainability areas including GHG gas emissions, energy use, stakeholder engagement and labour and human rights. 

In 2011, the Indian Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued the National Voluntary Guidelines on the Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business (NVGs). Building on the NVGs, a new guidance entitled the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBC) was released in 2018. The new guidance integrates the ‘Respect’ pillar of the United Nations Guiding Principles and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Following other countries, India is also on the path of developing sustainability guidelines for the end-to-end supply chains in the mining sector. This will only ensure stakeholder participation for safety and sustainability in all four stages: profiling, reservation, exploration and departure. For future growth in mining, that will entail coal, iron-ore, bauxite and limestone extraction as the top four mining categories, it is an absolute necessity that focus on SDG reporting is carried through beyond the voluntary reporting mandate to encompass the aspirations of the communities and investors who would be the major beneficiaries of such initiatives. Without their blessings, the growth in these sectors would be mired by distrust and lack of transparency, which remains to be one of the dampeners for sustainable growth in mining. 

Procyon Mukherjee

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Environment

Mumbai to get is first Waste To Energy plant

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Mumbai’s first and upcoming Waste To Energy (WTE) plant at Deonar in Govandi area has received Environment Clearance (EC) from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The BMC has now approached the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) for its final consent. The BMC has proposed to build the plant, with 600 metric tonne per day capacity, at the city’s oldest dumping ground on 12.19 hectares area and at a cost of Rs 504 crore. Apart from incineration of waste in the dumping ground, the plant will also generate 4 megawatt electricity. he project got the mandatory EC on December 7 2021. However, its copy was recently uploaded on the BMC website.

Images Source: Google Images

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Product development

ACC awarded five-star rating for sustainable mining

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ACC has been awarded a five-star rating for sustainable mining by the Ministry of Mines.

Pralhad Joshiand, the Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs of India, and Raosaheb Patil Danve, the Honourable Minister of State for Ministry of Mines, Coal and Railways, presented ACC with the award at the fifth National Conclave on Mines and Minerals held in Delhi.
The award is a recognition of the company’s efforts towards sustainable mining at the Govari Limestone Mine, the Wadi Limestone Mine, the Gagal Limestone Mine, the Jamul Limestone Mines and the Kymore Limestone Mines from amongst 1029 mines in all over India. The mines were rated from one star to five-star on the criteria including: mining methodology; resettlement and rehabilitation issues; community engagement; use of green energy sources; digitisation; and data reporting.
Rajat Prusty, the Chief Manufacturing Officer of ACC, said, “Sustainability is deeply embedded in ACC’s business model. It’s a proud moment for the company to be recognised for its efforts in sustainable mining.

Source:Google Images

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