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Hindustan Zinc Limited: A Role Model for Responsible Mining

As India’s largest zinc producer and one of the world’s leading integrated silver producers, Hindustan Zinc has spent the last 50 years excelling in its operations across the mining sector. The company, therefore, has established itself as a leading global supplier of zinc-lead and silver metals. Through the company’s commitment to the environment and ensuring that the mining of such finite resources is carried out in a responsible way, Hindustan Zinc continues to demonstrate world-class standards of governance, safety, sustainability, and social responsibility. Therefore, Hindustan Zinc has positioned itself as a leader in the mining industry and continues to set a new standard for responsibility across mining practices which paves the way towards a more sustainable future in the sector.  

Hindustan Zinc provides a range of mining, smelting, and processing services for zinc-lead, and silver metal deposits. The company operates across 5 districts in Rajasthan, and a district of Uttarakhand, with total metal production of 1.123 Metric tons (Mt). As a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited, which owns a 64.9% stake in the company, Hindustan Zinc has operations across lead-zinc mines, hydrometallurgical zinc smelters, lead smelters, pyro-metallurgical lead-zinc smelter, as well as ownership of a sulphuric acid and captive power plant in the north of the country. The Indian government has also retained a 29.5% stake in the company, but it is all of these stakeholders which work together to develop the industry towards global economic recognition. As a result, they are collectively enhancing the stakeholder value through exploration, innovation, operational excellence, safety, and sustainability.  

With roughly 13 million tonnes of Zinc produced worldwide every year, 58% of this is used for galvanising which is used in industries such as building, construction, infrastructure, household appliances, automobiles, and steel furniture, where the zinc coating in this instance is sacrificed itself to protect the underlying steel from corroding. Hindustan Zinc is also producing lead ingots which have a minimum of 99.99% purity which is used across industries, but especially in battery segments, lead-based pigments, and cathode ray tubes. Both Hindustan Zinc’s zinc and lead are produced at its world-class Chanderiya Smelting Complex, and its products are registered on the London Metal Exchange (LME). The LME has some of the highest standards for metals in the world, to show that only metals which are high in quality, have uniform physical characteristics and are consistent are included on the exchange. Therefore, Hindustan Zinc’s lead and zinc products being included on the LME signify the capability and commitment to achieving and maintaining high standards throughout their operations and consequently their products.  

As one of the largest integrated silver producers in the world, Hindustan Zinc is producing high-quality refined silver as a by-product of the zinc-lead facility. Hindustan Zinc produces silver bullions which have a minimum purity of 99.9% and are listed on the London Bullion Market Association (LMBA). Its silver is produced in 30kg bars, 1kg bars and silver powders, which are used in a range of applications for its heat and electric conductivity, its decorative nature in jewellery and silverware, and in the industrial sector in things such as alloys, batteries, and circuits.  

Having strived towards excellence for decades, Hindustan Zinc puts as much importance into the productivity of its mining operations as it does in ensuring that sustainability measurements are upheld across the company. The company has been using best-in-class technology to implement smart, safe and sustainable operations across its sites. The holistic digital transformation across the company is driving them towards a more sustainable future, through a data-driven, agile, integrated, and collaborative approach. The new technologies allow for real-time data-based decision making which works to reduce waste, increase resource efficiency and drive-up productivity. This decision has also improved safety across its operations, all with the combined goal of being productive and safe whilst harnessing renewable energy sources.  

Hindustan Zinc’s overarching goal is to produce ‘Mines of the Future’ which are bringing digital data-driven and sustainably driven processes to mining, milling, and smelting goods before they go to market. An example of this is the use of drones in underground mining, which are used to scan stopes and produce volume measurements of bulk materials. These drones use vision-based technology to detect quality defects and unsafe conditions to improve efficiency, product quality and safety across mining operations. Hindustan Zinc also uses IoT (Internet of Things) in mining, which deploys smart sensors on heavy earth-moving machinery (HEMM). This system monitors performance, health, and reliability on a real-time basis across all its underground operations.  

Notably, Hindustan Zinc is the first mining company in India to introduce electric utility vehicles into underground mines, and consequently, the country has plans to invest 1 billion USD to convert all diesel-run mining vehicles in the mines to battery-operated ones over the next 5 years. This investment recognises the efforts the company is striving towards to be both efficient, productive, and technologically advanced, whilst working in every aspect to bring higher standards of sustainability across India’s mining industry. Further systems by Hindustan Zinc include 3D simulators, augmented/virtual reality, electrical substation automation, as well as automated and tele-remote drilling operations. These operations are working to strengthen the mining operations of the company but are all made to ensure the safety and sustainability of practices towards the future of mining.  

Overall, Hindustan Zinc is leading the way with its high-quality and efficiently mined products which are renowned globally on the LTE for their purity. They remain a leader in the industry with implemented technological advancements which are constantly improving productivity and safety across its 5 regions of operations. However, the company works beyond the confines of mining and processing to ensure that they are positively impacting the local communities and restoring vital biodiversity to promote a more sustainable future for the world, and critically for the mining industry. Consequently, Hindustan Zinc is a shining example of a company that has put people and the environment first to not only be a world-leading metal producer, but a role model for sustainable mining operations across the global industry.