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Innovative Mining & Environmental Management Practices at Ambuja Cement

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INNOVATIVE MINING & ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AT AMBUJA CEMENT

Y Raghavendra Rao & Vijay Kumar

Gujarat Ambuja Cements Limited

Kalina, Mumbai-98

Mining is one of the developmental activities which plays an important role in economic upliftment and is vital for sustenance, well being and comforts of human beings. Mining operations induce both beneficial and adverse changes on pre-mining environmental status of the surrounding regions. Un-planned mining operations, in general, have the ill effects viz. natural resource depletion , visual intrusion, landscape degradation, land slides, subsidence, deforestation, migration of fauna, noise and vibration due to blasting, dust and air pollution and hydrological imbalances.

Gujarat Ambuja Cements Limited popularly known as Ambuja Cement is one of the world's most environment friendly and profitable cement company.It has an annual cement production capacity of about fourteen million tonnes with plants located in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chatisgarh, Punjab , West Bengal and Maharashtra states of India . Ambuja Cement believes that mining operations should be conducted based on scientific mine planning after comprehensive impact assessment for ecologically sustainable development of a region . The company emphasizes on use of latest technological solutions for its operations in mining of cement raw materials and clinkerisation apart from involvement of local communities to ensure better environmental awareness and management of surrounding regions . Ambuja Cement believes in adherence to stricter and more vigorous environmental standards, regular monitoring and auditing to attain goals of environmental preservation. Mine Closure Plans have been prepared for all the locations and it has been envisaged to prevent , reduce , mitigate and remediate the detrimental impacts of operations on the environment.The present paper gives a brief account of mining techniques and environmental preservation values being practiced by Ambuja Cement at its various mines in the country.

1.0 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT & MINING

Ambuja Cement believes that industrialisation and environment protection should go hand in hand. Being third largest cement producer in the country , Ambuja Cement has obligation to protect environment around its mines and plant sites and has adopted the philosophy of Sustainable Development. Its Corporate Mission is to strive for an environment of beyond compliance and to raise the environmental awareness in the neighbouring community.

At its mines in Gujarat, the entire limestone production is achieved by non-conventional mining system using eco-friendly mining equipment Surface Miners . At its Kashlog mine in Solan district, the entire limestone production is achieved by resorting to wet drilling, controlled blasting, deployment of dozer with ripper and by using hydraulic hammers for primary & secondary rock breaking. At its plants, cement is manufactured using latest dry process technology. The process comprises various dust control systems like Glass Bag House, Electrostatic precipitator and pulse jet bag filters in various sections. Continuous Particulate Monitor is also installed for continuous monitoring of dust in Kiln and Raw Mill exhaust. Program Logic Control System is installed for synchronous control of all process and pollution control devices. To monitor the effectiveness of pollution control equipments , a rose garden has been set up in the middle of the plant.Most of the mined-out areas in Gujarat have been reclaimed and suitably rehabilitated by constructing cement plants , a Sewage Water Treatment Plant , by resorting to plantation, agri-farming, orchard and pasture land development apart from creating water reservoirs etc . In consonance with corporate philosophy of Sustainable Development, the Company has set up Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF) for rural development , socio-economic improvement and environmental preservation in surrounding areas of its operations.

2.0 MINING OPERATIONS

The exploitation of limestone at all of its mine is carried out by mechanised open-cast mining system. The deposits are opened up at two or three locations to facilitate simultaneous excavation of various grades of limestone and their homogenisation etc. This approach helps in conservation of limestone by proper blending and also helps in slope stability of formations avoiding formation of a series of benches at a particular place.

(View of Western Block of Kashlog Limestone Mine of Ambuja Cement in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh.Mine produces three million tonnes of limestone and shale annually for a two million tonnes capacity clinkerisation unit at Darlaghat)

Details of mining process at Ambuja Cement are given below :

2.1 MINE PLANNING

Mining operations are undertaken in a safe, scientific and environment friendly way in accordance with an approved mining plan / scheme of mining from Indian Bureau of Mines. Mining plans comprising inherent environmental management components are prepared using computer aided facilities at the mine planning division of Ambuja Cement . Overall, 10m height working benches are developed at majority of the locations having individual slopes of 80o -85o with an ultimate maximum pit slope of 45o. Slope stabilisation is achieved adopting biological reclamation.

2.2 DRILLING

Drilling is carried out by deploying hydraulic drills for primary blasting purpose. It is resorted to at locations which are difficult to work by Surface Miners , ripping / dozing technique or by use of hydraulic hammers (rock breaker ). Around 60 % of the group's production requirement is met through Drilling & Blasting. The drills have in-built system of dust collection or water spraying to suppress the dust at the source and render the operations practically dust free . The in-built compressor and remote controlled travel switches provide additional flexibility and safety to the machines.

2.3 BLASTING

Blasting operations are carried out in a controlled manner to minimize fly rock generation for safety of all civil structures, machines and nearby habitation, forest and agricultural fields. Due care is taken to keep the ground vibrations and air blast levels to the lowest possible limits so to avoid any adverse impacts

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