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Cement Sector: Positive and Optimistic

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For many sectors, including cement sector 2013 was a forgettable year. But the industry is very hopeful that after the election, reforms by the new government should boost the infrastructure industry and the new government will clear many infrastructure projects which have been on hold for a while and bring back economic growth onto the fast track, which will improve the demand situation significantly and uplift the sector.

Asigh of relief as we bid adieu to 2013, a year of stasis in the economy, a year of inaction on the policy front and volatility in forex rates; inflationary pressures; brick by brick, a walled growth flow.

However, man´s indomitable spirit always tries to break walls. To quote Nikos Kazantzakis, ´We gradually begin to understand that it does not matter very much what problem, whether big or small, is tormenting us; the only thing that matters is that we be tormented, that we find a ground for being tormented.

In other words, that we exercise our minds in order to keep certainty from turning us into idiots, that we fight to open every closed door we find in front of us.´

Even if 2014 may throw challenges at us, challenges like a non-conducive policy environment, indirect tax regime, widespread industry fragmentation, high credit cost and lack of adequate and robust infrastructure, overall there are good vibes gathering, and the long-term outlook is quite positive.

Spot of bother

Dealers and distributors have been a vital link in the cement sector and any ups and downs, any change in equation or any change in dynamics in the market gets reflected in their sales graph. INDIAN CEMENT REVIEW interacted with some of the dealers and stockists from different regions to find out how the year gone by had been for them, and their expectations in the new year. This is what they had to say.

According to Yuvresh Bansal, Proprietor, Jagdish Traders, the sluggish economy, shrinking profit margins and fluctuating prices have put cement dealers in a tight spot. Yuvresh says, ´There is hardly any infrastructure growth taking place. Most of the projects that were initiated in the past are lying half-built.´

Says Ravindra Vishnu Admane, Proprietor, Sonal Traders, ´The year 2013, for most dealers in the country, was not a good business one. Our business went down by as much as 50 per cent. That is a big blow; we somehow managed to struggle and pull through. We are optimistic about 2014 but do not expect any drastic change soon. Probably the year 2015 will be a better one.´.

´The market is tough and the demand is low. Unless we see the government taking some aggressive steps to boost the infrastructure, the demand for cement will continue to remain low. I hope that things will get better in 2014, but am not expecting any sudden, drastic changes,´ says Vip Raj, Proprietor, Bhagwan Vasudeo Shingre.

Satish Bhutada, Proprietor, Shriram Trade has this to say. ´There is no new construction and so, there is no new demand for cement. In my opinion, the high cost of flats has hampered the growth of housing sector and consequently, the cement industry. Lower demand of cement has led to some peculiar challenges and problems in the market. The prices are not stable and have kept fluctuating. Speculations move the prices and this up and down pattern is affecting everybody.´

Pankaj Malhotra, Proprietor, Eklavya Enterprises supports this view. Pankaj says, ´In Delhi, there is an inflow of two lakh bags on a daily basis. Where will all this cement go when there aren`t enough projects? Rates are fluctuating drastically; one day it is Rs 270, the next day it is 220; there is a variation of Rs 50-60 a bag.´

Supply-demand

Highlighting the current scenario, Teena Virmani, Vice-President, Kotak Securities, does a review. ´The current installed capacity of the cement industry stands at around 330-340 million tonnes per annum. The cement demand however, was much lower. Most companies had their production volumes up to 60-70 per cent of the installed capacity. The cement demand growth hovered at around 4-5 per cent in the fiscal year. The slowdown was a spill-over of decreased growth in consumer sectors such as infrastructure and housing. The GDP of the country too, was very low.´

Teena adds,´The housing sector, which is the major consumer of cement, saw a decline in demand for real estate. One of the reasons was the high interest rates on loans available for housing. Besides this, the ban on sand mining too, impacted the sector. We also saw very little activity in the infra sector, no major projects were launched and the actual execution of those granted too, did not take place. Overall, 2013 was not too good for the cement manufacturers.´

Says H M Bangur, Managing Director, Shree Cement, ´Given the low demand seen last year, it should only improve or at worst, remain the same. Supply-side pressures will remain all through this year too, as new capacity continues to come up irrespective of the slowdown. On the whole, supply is expected to continue to outstrip the demand in 2014. However, any major policy changes initiated by the government (infrastructure/housing boost) can bring in new demand though this cannot be anticipated at the moment.´

´Cement demand in 2014 will be driven mainly by infrastructure projects, housing and retail segments, both in urban and rural areas. The year 2014 may see an upsurge in demand spurred by a good monsoon and revival of infrastructure activities, as the Cabinet Committee has cleared a number of projects in the last two months. I do not expect much change in the demand from the realty sector as there is a considerable surplus of housing stocks,´ states Vinita Singhania, Vice- Chairman and Managing Director, JK Lakshmi Cement.

´We feel that the market will improve after the elections, with positive sentiments in real estate, both housing and commercial. The stock market and consumer goods will increase by 5-7 per cent,´ says Vinod Juneja, Managing Director, Binani Group of Industries. Vinod adds, ´The cost factor should reduce from 16-20 per cent in the cement sector by 2-3 per cent, on account of low duty on oil and petroleum products. Cement is paying direct and indirect tax to the tune of 43-45 per cent on various accounts and both the central and state government needs to reduce it by at least 3-4 per cent for the healthy growth of the cement industry.´

Impact of fluctuating price

Says Harsh Bhutani, Executive Director, Hydrobaths Ramco Marketing, ´Cement is the key material in any form of construction and thus, a hike in its price will impact the housing sector. Cement prices went up by approximately Rs 7 per kg in the last few months and it hit the real estate market badly. If this situation continues, it will impact the overall real estate market and will lead to a delay in the delivery of projects as well as to an increase in real estate prices; this will have an adverse effect on the economy on the whole.´ Harsh Bhutani farther adds, ´The cement industry may continue to face some challenges in 2014. Certain factors like rising labour costs and Indian Railways Busy Season Surcharge (BSS), which saw a hike from 12 per cent to 15 per cent in 2013, may continue to affect the industry. However, the government can help by initiating policies to help the sector. If these issues are not solved, cement prices will remain unstable, affecting the economy as a whole. With an estimated 15 per cent hike in the overall construction cost due to cement price hikes, the common man will have to shell out more for basic commodities. Housing is one of the most basic needs for a family and with the rise in prices, citizens will be highly pressured.´

Anand Gupta, General Secretary, Builders Association of India has a different tale on the matter. According to him, there is a price cartel. Anand says ´We are absolutely sure that cement manufactures are forming a price cartel. Today, the rates in the market are not natural rates. They are not driven by demand and supply or based on the production costs. Since only a few people are manufacturing most of the cement in the whole country, they are controlling the prices.´ He further adds, ´The cement production cost, according to us, is less than Rs 200; this includes all production costs, excise, transport, loading, unloading, and delivery. Today, the rate is around Rs 300, so they are making an extra profit of Rs 100 per bag. If the government of India or the Competition Commission had agreed to our suggestion to set up a cement regulatory authority, like they have done for the stock exchange and for insurance, then the price would have been under control. Some rules and regulations should have been framed by the government.´

Plant and machinery

According to Datta Arjun, Vice-President, Business Development, Penta India Cement and Minerals, there is an increasing move towards planning and designing cement equipment / plant with a focus on reduction in energy consumption and pollution. Datta says, ´The electrical energy consumption which is very prominent in a cement plant, has been reduced drastically recently, by the introduction of the vertical pre -grinder and roller press technology. The design of pre-calciner / burners in the pyro section is developed to conform to NOX emission levels. Coolers are also becoming more efficient.´

He further adds, ´Waste heat recovery system and alternate fuel use have become regular features in all plant designs. To save on natural resources, the focus is now on consuming less or zero water in the process. These concepts are implemented at the plant conceptualisation stage itself.

According to Datta, there is also a move towards increased automation in material handling, use of improved heavy machinery in mining, material analysis instruments, robotics in laboratory with the aim of reducing manpower requirement and assuring quality. From the logistics viewpoint, the adoption of efficient wagon loading and unloading technology and reduction of inventory, will also work well. Conditioning monitoring of equipment is necessary to reduce breakdown related maintenance and improve the efficiency of the plant.

Says Bidyut Bhattacharya, Chief Technical Director, Sinoma International Engg Co India, ´The Indian cement industry has, over the years, employed the best available technology for production. Thanks to a high degree of blended cement utilisation, Indian cement producers are at the forefront of fuel and electrical energy consumption on a per-tonne-of-product basis. An additional benefit in terms of sustainability is lower-per-tonne CO2 emission. Stricter regulatory requirements are leading increasingly towards greener technologies; and they, in turn, lead to further energy efficiency.´ Bidyut adds, ´For power, co-generation (through WHR technology) will give a big relief and should be made mandatory as it is in China. Usage of alternate fuels is also vital.´

Speaking about the emerging trends in the design of cement plants, Vivek Taneja, Head of Business Development (Power), Thermax, had this to say, ´Designing cement plants that can harness their waste heat for power generation, is being actively considered by the industry. Such a move, if backed by incentives available for renewable energy, can improve the profitability of the plants. Additionally, it will also help in better environment management as the waste heat after use for power generation will be let out at much lower temperatures. Cement plants can reduce their overall carbon footprint and also help in reducing the national dependence on fossil fuel.´

Vivek further adds, ´Timely policy changes and a well thought- out growth plan, fortified with incentives for energy conservation, will give a strong push to the cement industry. Although the order books of most plant and machinery manufacturers didn`t look exciting in 2013, the year ahead holds more potential. From our discussions on captive power requirements, we understand that the total capacity addition predicted during the 12th Five Year Plan will depend on the infrastructure development facilitated by government policies. If the present economic policy stasis continues, future capacity addition is going to be limited. However, we are optimistic about the potential in this sector from the long- term perspective.´

Housing major growth driver

According to Anand, the cement industry will see bright days in 2014. Housing, which consumes more than 67 per cent of cement consumption, will continue to be a major growth driver. Says Anand, ´I feel cement manufacturers are going see bright days this year. Corresponding to the huge demand for housing, which is a major consumer of cement, the demand is going to rise significantly. Presently the need for houses is there but people want houses that can fit their budget. They are not getting houses which they can afford, mainly because we have never made any long-term affordable housing policy for this country.´

According to him, costs are pushed up due to scarcity of land. Anand says, ´We have to have good FSI policies in place to tackle these problems. It is strange that in a country where we have huge capacity to produce cement and where we have a high demand for houses, we are not able to deliver housing to the people who need it. The government needs to give in-depth thought to the issue and come up with a solution that will help bringing down the cost of owning a house.´

Anand further adds, ´RBI loan granting norms are a bit convoluted. The RBI has given guidelines to all the banks that no fund can be given against land. I don´t understand this. Any bank would be interested in the security of their money and assured returns on investments. So any land with a clear title and which is going to give returns, should be automatically eligible for loans. Instead, the banks have taken a stand that they will finance only home loan or projects. As a result, builders are forced to borrow money from private lenders who charge exorbitant interest. Consequently, the extra prices are passed on to the customer. If the RBI corrects itself, things can become very easy. In cities like Mumbai, 80 per cent of the construction cost is land.´

´The infrastructure sector is expected to give a major boost to cement demand in 2014. With the new government coming in, it is expected that a renewed push will be given to stalled projects, and new projects will be initiated. All of this should auger well for cement demand. If the interest rate cycle goes on a downturn this year, as we hope it will, with moderation in inflation going forward, housing demand should also revive across cities. Rural housing demand should remain good, considering the expectation of a healthy agricultural growth this year,´ says Bangur.

RMC potential

The current production of RMC is around 15 to 20 million cu m a year as against a total concrete market of approximately 300 million cu m a year. Says DK Narang, Director, Ajax-Fiori, ´RMC holds significant potential. Bangalore was the city which transformed this whole process. Today in Bangalore, if anybody has to build a house even if it is 1500 sq ft or 2,000 sq ft, they prefer RMC. This trend has spread across cities, even Tier 2 cities. Of course, the conversion of cement into RMC has not reached its full level of potential. Though some markets have a high penetration level of even up to 70 per cent, we still have a long way to go.´

´Around 76 per cent of concrete demand originates from housing construction. The infrastructure sector (roads, power, airport, urban infrastructure, railways, etc) accounts for 17 per cent of the total RMC demand; it will continue to be driven by these sectors and will depend on the construction opportunities presented by these sectors. Around 79 per cent of the RMC demand was driven by Tier 1 cities in 2012-13. This can be attributed to higher awareness of the benefits of RMC usage, higher concentration of large scale projects coupled with focus on quality, timely delivery and control of wastage.

Also, space constraints, along with government and municipal bodies´ initiatives to control pollution, have encouraged the use of RMC. In 2012-13, the overall economic slowdown, sluggishness in construction activity, liquidity crunch and policy hurdles resulted in a lower demand growth of concrete,´ says Prabir Ray, Executive President, Ready Mix Concrete, Key Accounts and Building Products, UltraTech.

According to Anand Sundaresan, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Schwing Stetter (India), 2013 was a forgettable year for the construction equipment industry, as well as the concrete equipment sector. Sundaresan says, ´With construction at a virtual standstill, the demand for concreting machinery fell by 15-20 per cent YoY, and considering that 2012 itself had already been a negative year, this represents a decline of 30 per cent from the peaks the industry had reached in 2011.´

Highlighting the shift in the concrete equipment market, Anand had this to say. oDuring the peak period, road work and large projects had ensured a demand for larger capacity machines. Now, due to the downturn and few fresh infrastructural projects, the demand is clearly for lower capacity machines. While some metros like Mumbai and Delhi still saw some high-rise buildings calling for high pressure pumps, other projects brought in business for the smaller capacity machines. The fact that the larger machines were no longer growth drivers hurt the topline of many companies. ´The year did see an increased interest in the boom pump which has a bright future in the years to come.´

Moving ahead

Says Ram Raheja, Director and Head-Architecture, S Raheja Realty, ´The key driver in any sector is always demand and there is a huge demand in the housing sector. An estimated 26.53 million homes in the budget category is required for urban areas by 2013-2014 while the need is double in the rural sector.

With general economic progress and the growing income of the middle class, the demand for affordable housing is also growing. Thus, real estate will remain one of the main sectors for the coming years and if the government makes adequate changes and supports the market with its policies, growth is inevitable. Therefore, if the developers and the government work together to provide quality housing to its population, I believe 2014 will witness a change in the growth curve.

In conclusion, here is a Buddhist story that serves to sum up the current scenario. One day, a young Buddhist on his journey home, came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his journey, he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river.

The young Buddhist overcalled out to the teacher, ´Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river?´

The teacher ponders for a moment, looks up and down the river and calls back, ´My son, you are on the other side.´

Concrete

Indian cement industry is well known for its energy and natural resource efficiency

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Dr Hitesh Sukhwal, Deputy General Manager – Environment, Udaipur Cement Works Limited (UCWL) takes us through the multifaceted efforts that the company has undertaken to keep emissions in check with the use of alternative sources of energy and carbon capture technology.

Tell us about the policies of your organisation for the betterment of the environment.
Caring for people is one of the core values of our JK Lakshmi Cement Limited. We strongly believe that we all together can make a difference. In all our units, we have taken measures to reduce carbon footprint, emissions and minimise the use of natural resources. Climate change and sustainable development are major global concerns. As a responsible corporate, we are committed with and doing consistent effort small or big to preserve and enrich the environment in and around our area of operations.
As far as environmental policies are concerned, we are committed to comply with all applicable laws, standards and regulations of regulatory bodies pertaining to the environment. We are consistently making efforts to integrate the environmental concerns into the mainstream of the operations. We are giving thrust upon natural resource conservation like limestone, gypsum, water and energy. We are utilising different kinds of alternative fuels and raw materials. Awareness among the employees and local people on environmental concerns is an integral part of our company. We are adopting best environmental practices aligned with sustainable development goals.
Udaipur Cement Works Limited is a subsidiary of the JK Lakshmi Cement Limited. Since its inception, the company is committed towards boosting sustainability through adopting the latest art of technology designs, resource efficient equipment and various in-house innovations. We are giving thrust upon renewable and clean energy sources for our cement manufacturing. Solar Power and Waste Heat Recovery based power are our key ingredients for total power mix.

What impact does cement production have on the environment? Elaborate the major areas affected.
The major environmental concern areas during cement production are air emissions through point and nonpoint sources due to plant operation and emissions from mining operation, from material transport, carbon emissions through process, transit, noise pollution, vibration during mining, natural resource depletion, loss of biodiversity and change in landscape.
India is the second largest cement producer in the world. The Indian cement industry is well known for its energy and natural resource efficiency worldwide. The Indian cement industry is a frontrunner for implementing significant technology measures to ensure a greener future.
The cement industry is an energy intensive and significant contributor to climate change. Cement production contributes greenhouse gases directly and indirectly into the atmosphere through calcination and use of fossil fuels in an energy form. The industry believes in a circular economy by utilising alternative fuels for making cement. Cement companies are focusing on major areas of energy efficiency by adoption of technology measures, clinker substitution by alternative raw material for cement making, alternative fuels and green and clean energy resources. These all efforts are being done towards environment protection and sustainable future.
Nowadays, almost all cement units have a dry manufacturing process for cement production, only a few exceptions where wet manufacturing processes are in operation. In the dry manufacturing process, water is used only for the purpose of machinery cooling, which is recirculated in a closed loop, thus, no polluted water is generated during the dry manufacturing process.
We should also accept the fact that modern life is impossible without cement. However, through state-of-the-art technology and innovations, it is possible to mitigate all kinds of pollution without harm to the environment and human beings.

Tell us about the impact blended cement creates on the environment and emission rate.
Our country started cement production in 1914. However, it was introduced in the year 1904 at a small scale, earlier. Initially, the manufacturing of cement was only for Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC). In the 1980s, the production of blended cement was introduced by replacing fly ash and blast furnace slag. The production of blended cement increased in the growth period and crossed the 50 per cent in the year 2004.
The manufacturing of blended cement results in substantial savings in the thermal and electrical energy consumption as well as saving of natural resources. The overall consumption of raw materials, fossil fuel such as coal, efficient burning and state-of-the-art technology in cement plants have resulted in the gradual reduction of emission of carbon dioxide (CO2). Later, the production of blended cement was increased in manifolds.
If we think about the growth of blended cement in the past few decades, we can understand how much quantity of , (fly ash and slag) consumed and saved natural resources like limestone and fossil fuel, which were anyhow disposed of and harmed the environment. This is the reason it is called green cement. Reduction in the clinker to cement ratio has the second highest emission reduction potential i.e., 37 per cent. The low carbon roadmap for cement industries can be achieved from blended cement. Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC), Portland Slag Cement (PSC) and Composite Cement are already approved by the National Agency BIS.
As far as kilogram CO2 per ton of cement emission concerns, Portland Slag Cement (PSC) has a larger potential, other than PPC, Composite Cement etc. for carbon emission reduction. BIS approved 60 per cent slag and 35 per cent clinker in composition of PSC. Thus, clinker per centage is quite less in PSC composition compared to other blended cement. The manufacturing of blended cement directly reduces thermal and process emissions, which contribute high in overall emissions from the cement industry, and this cannot be addressed through adoption of energy efficiency measures.
In the coming times, the cement industry must relook for other blended cement options to achieve a low carbon emissions road map. In near future, availability of fly ash and slag in terms of quality and quantity will be reduced due to various government schemes for low carbon initiatives viz. enhance renewable energy sources, waste to energy plants etc.
Further, it is required to increase awareness among consumers, like individual home builders or large infrastructure projects, to adopt greener alternatives viz. PPC and PSC for more sustainable
resource utilisation.

What are the decarbonising efforts taken by your organisation?
India is the world’s second largest cement producer. Rapid growth of big infrastructure, low-cost housing (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna), smart cities project and urbanisation will create cement demand in future. Being an energy intensive industry, we are also focusing upon alternative and renewable energy sources for long-term sustainable business growth for cement production.
Presently, our focus is to improve efficiency of zero carbon electricity generation technology such as waste heat recovery power through process optimisation and by adopting technological innovations in WHR power systems. We are also increasing our capacity for WHR based power and solar power in the near future. Right now, we are sourcing about 50 per cent of our power requirement from clean and renewable energy sources i.e., zero carbon electricity generation technology. Usage of alternative fuel during co-processing in the cement manufacturing process is a viable and sustainable option. In our unit, we are utilising alternative raw material and fuel for reducing carbon emissions. We are also looking forward to green logistics for our product transport in nearby areas.
By reducing clinker – cement ratio, increasing production of PPC and PSC cement, utilisation of alternative raw materials like synthetic gypsum/chemical gypsum, Jarosite generated from other process industries, we can reduce carbon emissions from cement manufacturing process. Further, we are looking forward to generating onsite fossil free electricity generation facilities by increasing the capacity of WHR based power and ground mounted solar energy plants.
We can say energy is the prime requirement of the cement industry and renewable energy is one of the major sources, which provides an opportunity to make a clean, safe and infinite source of power which is affordable for the cement industry.

What are the current programmes run by your organisation for re-building the environment and reducing pollution?
We are working in different ways for environmental aspects. As I said, we strongly believe that we all together can make a difference. We focus on every environmental aspect directly / indirectly related to our operation and surroundings.
If we talk about air pollution in operation, every section of the operational unit is well equipped with state-of-the-art technology-based air pollution control equipment (BagHouse and ESP) to mitigate the dust pollution beyond the compliance standard. We use high class standard PTFE glass fibre filter bags in our bag houses. UCWL has installed the DeNOx system (SNCR) for abatement of NOx pollution within norms. The company has installed a 6 MW capacity Waste Heat Recovery based power plant that utilises waste heat of kiln i.e., green and clean energy source. Also, installed a 14.6 MW capacity solar power system in the form of a renewable energy source.
All material transfer points are equipped with a dust extraction system. Material is stored under a covered shed to avoid secondary fugitive dust emission sources. Finished product is stored in silos. Water spraying system are mounted with material handling point. Road vacuum sweeping machine deployed for housekeeping of paved area.
In mining, have deployed wet drill machine for drilling bore holes. Controlled blasting is carried out with optimum charge using Air Decking Technique with wooden spacers and non-electric detonator (NONEL) for control of noise, fly rock, vibration, and dust emission. No secondary blasting is being done. The boulders are broken by hydraulic rock breaker. Moreover, instead of road transport, we installed Overland Belt Conveying system for crushed limestone transport from mine lease area to cement plant. Thus omit an insignificant amount of greenhouse gas emissions due to material transport, which is otherwise emitted from combustion of fossil fuel in the transport system. All point emission sources (stacks) are well equipped with online continuous emission monitoring system (OCEMS) for measuring parameters like PM, SO2 and NOx for 24×7. OCEMS data are interfaced with SPCB and CPCB servers.
The company has done considerable work upon water conservation and certified at 2.76 times water positive. We installed a digital water flow metre for each abstraction point and digital ground water level recorder for measuring ground water level 24×7. All digital metres and level recorders are monitored by an in-house designed IoT based dashboard. Through this live dashboard, we can assess the impact of rainwater harvesting (RWH) and ground water monitoring.
All points of domestic sewage are well connected with Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) and treated water is being utilised in industrial cooling purposes, green belt development and in dust suppression. Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) installed for mine’s workshop. Treated water is reused in washing activity. The unit maintains Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD).
Our unit has done extensive plantations of native and pollution tolerant species in industrial premises and mine lease areas. Moreover, we are not confined to our industrial boundary for plantation. We organised seedling distribution camps in our surrounding areas. We involve our stakeholders, too, for our plantation drive. UCWL has also extended its services under Corporate Social Responsibility for betterment of the environment in its surrounding. We conduct awareness programs for employees and stakeholders. We have banned Single Use Plastic (SUP) in our premises. In our industrial township, we have implemented a solid waste management system for our all households, guest house and bachelor hostel. A complete process of segregated waste (dry and wet) door to door collection systems is well established.

Tell us about the efforts taken by your organisation to better the environment in and around the manufacturing unit.
UCWL has invested capital in various environmental management and protection projects like installed DeNOx (SNCR) system, strengthening green belt development in and out of industrial premises, installed high class pollution control equipment, ground-mounted solar power plant etc.
The company has taken up various energy conservation projects like, installed VFD to reduce power consumption, improve efficiency of WHR power generation by installing additional economiser tubes and AI-based process optimisation systems. Further, we are going to increase WHR power generation capacity under our upcoming expansion project. UCWL promotes rainwater harvesting for augmentation of the ground water resource. Various scientifically based WHR structures are installed in plant premises and mine lease areas. About 80 per cent of present water requirement is being fulfilled by harvested rainwater sourced from Mine’s Pit. We are also looking forward towards green transport (CNG/LNG based), which will drastically reduce carbon footprint.
We are proud to say that JK Lakshmi Cement Limited has a strong leadership and vision for developing an eco-conscious and sustainable role model of our cement business. The company was a pioneer among cement industries of India, which had installed the DeNOx (SNCR) system in its cement plant.

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Concrete

NTPC selects Carbon Clean and Green Power for carbon capture facility

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Carbon Clean and Green Power International Pvt. Ltd has been chosen by NTPC Energy Technology Research Alliance (NETRA) to establish the carbon capture facility at NTPC Vindhyachal. This facility, which will use a modified tertiary amine to absorb CO2 from the power plant’s flue gas, is intended to capture 20 tonnes of CO2) per day. A catalytic hydrogenation method will eventually be used to mix the CO2 with hydrogen to create 10 tonnes of methanol each day. For NTPC, capturing CO2 from coal-fired power plant flue gas and turning it into methanol is a key area that has the potential to open up new business prospects and revenue streams.

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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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