The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) has strengthened the relationship between Australian manufacturers and the Indian mining sector which relies on the import of equipment.
New South Wales-based manufacturer of diesel-powered mining vehicles VLI recognised a gap it could fill in India’s mining sector – well-certified, blast-protected vehicles for underground operations.
VLI head India representative Prem Amarr Bhasin said there was a real need for reliable equipment in India.
“Our strategy in India was to start small and gradually build confidence in our equipment,” Bhasin said.
“India is a huge and growing market. Around 80 per cent of energy comes from coal and demand for energy is growing fast. But we expanded gradually.”
To cater to demand, Austrade helped VLI form strong relationships with the right connections in India, employing its advisors to support VLI through the process of securing its client base.
“Austrade organises functions to help connect Indian miners with Australian METS (mining equipment, technology and services),” Bhasin said.
“We were invited to dinners and working sessions at venues across India. These events were very good at generating contacts. In India, business follows friendship.”
The professionalism of Austrade’s advisors impressed Bhasin, as they came well prepared and informed.
“They provide insights into the mining industry in India, and they market Australian METS capabilities to the right audiences. Partnering with Austrade helped us get known and this was especially important when dealing with publicly owned mines.”
A recent change to Indian regulations has allowed METS companies like VLI to more easily test their equipment for the risks of mining in India.
“When we started, we could easily spend thousands of dollars on testing without having a single guaranteed sale,” Bhasin said.
“However, the Directorate General of Mines Safety has updated many regulations. This means we can certify our machines on the basis of accreditation gained in Australia.”
“It’s a lot easier to export mining machinery to India now than it was just a few years ago.”
VLI has been supplying equipment to India’s largest underground coal mine since 2015 – the Eastern Coalfields Jhanjra mine near Kolkata.
Bhasin detailed how VLI has helped to strengthen the output of the coal mine in just five years.
“We supplied the Jhanjra mine with our explosion protected transporters for underground mine workers. We have now sold five underground man-transporter systems to coal mines in India,” Bhasin said.
“Output at Jhanjra rose from 1.5 million tonnes per year in 2015 to 3.5 million tonnes in 2020.
“We think sales will accelerate as the boom in mining gathers pace. The new generation of private mine operators in India are looking for high-quality METS.”