IIT (ISM) Dhanbad deepens tech cooperation with top Indian miners

The Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad is deepening its relationships with top Indian miners to help further technology solutions to improve mining and mineral processing efficiency, including for lower grade ores. Firstly, Tata Steel has established a Centre for Innovation in Mining and Mineral Beneficiation at IIT (ISM) Dhanbad.

The company aims to strengthen its long-term competitiveness through excellence in developing technological solutions in natural and urban mining and beneficiation for value from low grade and difficult ores. The centre will enable growth of relevant research infrastructure, attract talent, and help strengthen industry-academia collaborative eco-system in areas of strategic national importance. “Creation of this centre is aligned to Tata Steel’s focus on building closer ties with centres of academic excellence and set up technology clusters in identified, strategic areas.”

Dr Debashish Bhattacharjee, Vice President, Technology and New Materials Business, Tata Steel, said: “Collaboration between industry and academia is key to catalysing innovation and aiding sustainable business growth. IIT (ISM) Dhanbad provides a strong academic and research platform with excellent talent pool in one of the areas of Tata Steel’s strategic, long and short-term business interests – mining and mineral beneficiation. With the creation of this Centre for Innovation with INR220,000,000 [about $2.7 million] from Tata Steel, we look forward to jointly develop and scale up technologies relevant for local mines and ores. Work at this centre will cover technology development for natural and urban mining. The centre will also work on beneficiation and value addition of low-grade ores. Tata Steel is committed to pioneer disruptive development through active engagement with academic institutions.”

Professor Rajiv Shekhar Director Indian Institute of Technology (ISM) said: “We are delighted to establish this Centre of Excellence (CoE) with Tata Steel Ltd…to strengthen industry-institute collaborations and solve real-life problems of mutual interest. IIT (ISM) Dhanbad, a world-renowned Institute in the fields of Mining, Mineral & Earth Sciences, is extremely pleased to work with Tata Steel Limited on this path-breaking initiative. Academia and industry need to forge such symbiotic partnerships that bring benefits to both. Such collaborative efforts will be instrumental in advancing research and innovation in technology development, besides creating a skilled workforce. Through this joint collaboration, we look forward to leveraging the latest technological advancements to groom our researchers and work towards the development of sustainable, innovative processes for a green and safe future.”

IIT (ISM) Dhanbad is a prestigious institute that will contribute technological thought leadership and further strengthen Tata Steel’s research & development prowess. The innovation centre is strategically located to leverage the advantages of other nearby research institutes, regulatory bodies, and, more importantly, a trained and skilled workforce. The centre would be one of its kind in the state of Jharkhand and will further aim to achieve research excellence by attracting renowned experts and forming strategic partnerships with OEMs to provide complete solutions.

It follows the signing of a MoU in January 2023 for collaborative and sponsored research projects between Hindustan Copper Ltd and IIT (ISM) Dhanbad at HCL Corporate Office in Kolkata in the presence of Arun Kumar Shukla, CMD, HCL and IIT (ISM) Dhanbad’s Professor Shekhar.

The first technical collaboration with IIT (ISM), Dhanbad, was hailed as a momentous occasion for HCL, the only copper miner in India, owning all the operating mining leases of copper ore in the nation. Presently, the majority of ore production comes through underground operations only and the level of ore production is hovering around 4 Mt/y.

Due to the complex geological characteristics of the ore body and the increased depth of mining, various geo-technical and ground water related issues along with technical/ operational problems are being faced during the process of production along with maintaining safety standards and dealing the emerging sustainability issues.

HCL is in its expansion phase with about threefold enhancement of ore production capacity wherein development activities in projects are either on-going in nature or already planned in most of its mines. At present, the mined out ore is processed at its own ore beneficiation plants and the metals in concentrate is sold partially in domestic market and the rest in the international market.

IIT (ISM) Dhanbad will play a key role in solving the emerging geological, technical, environmental, sustainable and ore beneficiation issues for achieving the envisaged expansion programme of HCL. The present MoU will address HCL’s need for technical assistance, guidance and consultancy work from IIT-ISM for enhancing copper ore production through modifying mining methods with application of state-of-the-art technologies, improvement of productivity and safety in mines, environmental clearance issues, various hydrological & hydro-geological studies and in areas of unconventional exploration methods like geophysical exploration, Remote Sensing etc. for depth exploration of copper ore.

HCL wants to partner with IIT (ISM) Dhanbad in taking up R&D projects for the improvement of Indian copper mining sector, training and development of HCL engineers and managers for skill set development and knowledge up-gradation in the areas of exploration, ore beneficiation and various other statutory/mine regulation amendments or related issues.