India is the second most populous country in the world. One of its main challenges is to provide its citizens with energy sources, as according to the Indian government, there are currently nearly a quarter of a billion inhabitants without access to electricity. Therefore, India, similarly to China, has focused on available resources, i.e. coal mining, thereby opening opportunities for the Polish technical thought.
Due to the rapid development of infrastructure in India, there is a huge demand for electricity in this country. In general, it is obtained from coal. In 2018, its output amounted here to about 770 million tonnes - in comparison, about 64 million tonnes were extracted in Poland at that time. Due to the growing demand for steel in India, in order to meet the needs of industry and citizens, the production of coking coal increases by about 5% per year on average, so does the power coal production. It is also worth emphasising that India imports very large volumes of this raw material from Indonesia, the Republic of South Africa and China. Whereas the resources of deposits themselves in India are estimated to last approximately 136 years. Although the vast majority of coal extraction takes place in open cast mines, underground deposits are also becoming increasingly common. This is where the real opportunities to develop sales of machinery and equipment that are manufactured by the FAMUR Group appear.
A promising, but difficult market
Although the Indian market is extremely attractive - India is one of the world's largest producers of power and coking coal - entrepreneurs must face numerous obstacles. They range from harsh climatic conditions, language and communication barriers that make it difficult to communicate with the lower-level staff, to a low technical culture that often leads to many breakdowns caused by the user. Unqualified personnel is a very big problem on the Indian market. Most people employed in the mines are residents of surrounding villages, who can neither write nor read. Distances also provide additional impediments preventing a prompt response to reported problems. However, it is a large and important trade market, focused on the mechanisation of extraction processes.
Currently, there are three machines in operation in the Indian mines, manufactured by the FAMUR Group - i.e. the EZ-K10 bolting and drilling rig and two AM-50z-w roadheaders. These machines are relatively easy to operate, and their use and maintenance do not require a high technical culture or advanced tools. We also present new solutions on a regular basis, nevertheless, the process of their implementation in India is frequently quite long and difficult, due to cultural and historical conditions. In addition, when buying a machine, the customer expects technical support for as long as possible, often requiring even one year's training or supervision, not only with regard to the operation of the machine, but also mining technology. Yet, the company's undoubted success is the delivery of two roadheaders to the Gare Palma IV/8 mine, that is located near Raigarh, in central-eastern India. It took place in November 2019. At first, the roadheaders will perform works related to the opening out of the deposit, and then they will be used to produce coal.
Difficult geological conditions prove the efficiency of the machines
Despite the difficult conditions in the mines (high accumulation of water, very problematic output haulage, large gradients at machinery operating sites, high hardness of fragmented rock) and preliminary technical problems, caused mainly by the lack of experience of the operators, our machines start to deliver results in compliance with the customer's requirements.
The country is facing a major challenge, as it is estimated that due to the dynamic development of industry and society, energy consumption will have doubled by 2040. Therefore, despite large investments in renewable energy, fossil fuels should remain the core of the energy mix. In addition, environmental conditions cause the abandonment of open cast coal mining, in favour of the exploitation of underground deposits and, as we know, this process requires more advanced solutions. To sum up the aforementioned factors, it can be concluded that there is a chance for a large expansion of the machines manufactured by the FAMUR Group on Indian market.