“IoT is helping us monitor and reduce mining emission levels”

With a wealth of experience and expertise, C Chandru, CEO – Smelters, Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL), has been instrumental in steering the company towards technological advancements and operational excellence.

Aanchal Ghatak
New Update

C Chandru

With a wealth of experience and expertise, C Chandru, CEO – Smelters, Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL), has been instrumental in steering the company towards technological advancements and operational excellence. In an exclusive interview with Aanchal Ghatak, he discusses the innovative approaches adopted by HZL, exploring its evolution from traditional smelting methods to the integration of cutting-edge technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), drones, and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Excerpts:


Please share an overview of HZL’s smelting facilities, including their locations and distinctive features.

Hindustan Zinc operates smelting facilities across Rajasthan, with smelters in Chanderiya, Dariba, and Debari, alongside zinc-lead-silver metal refineries in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand. Since its disinvestment in 2002, the company has witnessed a five-fold increase in its zinc, lead, and silver metal production capacities, with the current capacity exceeding 1.1 million tonnes per annum compared to 204,000 tonnes per annum in 2002.

The Chanderiya Smelting Complex in Chittorgarh district is the world’s second-largest single-location integrated zinc smelting complex, boasting a production capacity of 558,000 tonnes and a lead production capacity of 85,000 tonnes per annum. It is complemented by captive power plants generating 234 MW and additional green power through waste heat recovery boilers.


HZL has embraced IoT, drones, and AI to enable precise process control, real-time data collection, and efficient facility monitoring and inspection.

The Dariba Smelting Complex in Rajsamand district has a capacity of 250,000 tonnes of zinc and 125,000 tonnes of lead per annum. Notably, it is self-sufficient with zinc and lead smelters and captive power plants of 170 MW strategically positioned near the Sindesar Khurd mine and Rajpura Dariba mine. Debari, in Udaipur district, houses India’s oldest zinc smelter with a production capacity of 88,000 tonnes of zinc metal per annum. Additionally, Pantnagar’s zinc, lead, and silver metal refinery can produce 800 metric tonnes of silver annually. These facilities collectively underscore HZL’s prominent position in the metal production industry.

The company has evolved from using traditional smelting methods to incorporating IoT, drones, and AI. Please help us understand these initiatives.


Hindustan Zinc has undergone a transformative journey in its smelting processes, transitioning from traditional pyrometallurgy methods to more efficient hydrometallurgical processes, such as electrolytic zinc smelting. These advancements have significantly improved energy efficiency, recovery rates, and environmental sustainability. However, the innovations did not stop there. We have incorporated advanced technologies across operations at HZL, enhancing efficiency and safety.

In recent years, the company has embraced advanced automation, IoT, drones, and AI to enable precise process control, real-time data collection from remote locations, and efficient monitoring and inspection of facilities. These technologies also help conduct sophisticated analyses for process optimisation and safety enhancement. The integration of these technologies has helped HZL increase efficiency, improve safety standards, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance profitability in zinc smelting operations, positioning the company as a leader in embracing Industry 4.0 principles for a sustainable and smart future.

Does this include using AI to optimise furnace operations and enhance precision within the smelting processes?


We have employed AI in the smelting operations to optimise furnace performance and improve precision. AI and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms help create recommendation models for setting blast furnace process variables. These models analyse historical and real-time data to determine the optimal settings, resulting in more efficient utilisation of coke and other raw materials. This optimisation leads to a reduction in consumption norms by 5–10%. Additionally, we use AI to develop soft sensors for critical quality parameters of roasters. These sensors enable the operations team to make real-time decisions, aiming for a 3–5% improvement in throughput.

What about the drones? How is the company using them?

At HZL, we have integrated drone-based inspections into the smelting operations, facilitating various crucial tasks such as replacing aviation lights, physical inspections of critical structures like tanks, chimneys, and furnaces, verification of raw material stockpiles, and periodic aerial surveys to ensure facility compliance.


Drones enable improved data collection through high-resolution imagery and sensor data, facilitating detailed analysis and maintenance planning.

Drone-based inspections have yielded significant safety and efficiency benefits for our zinc smelting operations. They have drastically reduced worker exposure to hazards by eliminating the need for personnel to enter risky environments, substantially decreasing the likelihood of accidents. Moreover, drones have led to faster inspections, saving us over 95% of the time compared to traditional methods.

Drones also offer a cost-effective solution, cutting expenses by 30-40% as they eliminate the requirement for costly scaffolding, specialised equipment, or additional workforce. Lastly, drones enable improved data collection through high-resolution imagery and sensor data, facilitating detailed analysis and enhancing future maintenance planning.


And the IoT? Where is the company deploying the sensors, and how is it helping HZL?

IoT sensors provide real-time data and improve decision-making within Hindustan Zinc’s smelting facilities. They offer real-time data for better decision-making and contribute to environmental sustainability by monitoring emission levels. This helps us take proactive measures to control the environmental impacts.

IoT sensors also enable predictive maintenance by collecting equipment data, predicting potential failures, and allowing for proactive maintenance. This reduces downtime by 10-15% and enhances operational efficiency and cost savings.


Technology has several dimensions, and so does mining. Has HZL undertaken other tech initiatives to streamline its smelting processes and operations?

At Hindustan Zinc, we actively explore various technological initiatives to enhance the smelting processes and overall operational efficiency. For instance, we use AI—and ML-powered image recognition to inspect finished products, ensuring consistency in quality and monitoring safety hazards to prevent accidents.

We are leveraging Digital Twins, virtual representations of physical assets and processes, for virtual simulation, predictive maintenance, and process optimisation. This enables risk-free testing of new parameters and configurations, real-time identification of equipment failures, and optimisation of process parameters for enhanced efficiency and quality control.

Additionally, we have employed Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for training, remote monitoring, troubleshooting, and design planning. These technologies provide immersive experiences for safe training, remote troubleshooting, and efficient equipment or layout planning within the smelter. These initiatives underscore the company’s commitment to leveraging advanced technologies to optimise operations and drive efficiency gains across processes.

C Chandru

CEO – Smelters, Hindustan Zinc Limited