Karzok is about 225 kms from Leh in Jammu & Kashmir and at an altitude of 4860 meters above the sea level. Only 5 months of accessibility, scarcity of oxygen and water and absolutely no infrastructure to execute projects says it all about this mammoth challenge that Metso faced recently. Metso’s most difficult project till date was a self- discovery of sorts and a high that will be difficult to erase for a long time. Commissioning a modular plant at world’s highest altitude in just 35 days, one side surprised Anusha Projects but on the other hand made them delighted about the decision of choosing Metso as their preferred partner to execute this project.
Indo China border road project
The Indo – China road project was released by the BRO (Border Road Organization) in 2010. Anusha Projects sub-contracted the order and needed a partner that has the best of technology and also the ability and knowledge to execute the project in difficult terrains. Several reference checks and rounds of discussions, led the quest to Metso.
Anusha Projects Pvt Ltd, a Hyderabad based company, is a Mining, Drilling & Blasting Operations company, that was started in 2002. With diversified activities, they entered Quarrying & Crushing business in 2007 to meet the demand of crushed aggregates required by infrastructure development companies.
Recalls Mr. A Jalandhar Reddy, Managing Director, Anusha Projects, “When we got this project, we knew about the difficulties that lay ahead of us. The work conditions were most challenging and to top it all, there are not many project management teams which are gutsy enough to handle such climatic conditions. Our quest to select the right partner ended with Metso and to my mind the real reason was the commitment level of both Anusha & Metso teams. We gelled really well.”
Tough terrain required a technology that could withstand the nature and toughness the project challenged Anusha with. “We couldn’t compromise on the quality of technology or expertise. The best choice we had was Metso. We needed sound technology to back the project as the working conditions and timelines were quite challenging. Metso’s Jaw Crusher and Cone Crushers have a proven track record and have performed in difficult projects and that was our clear comfort before selecting them,” added Mr. Reddy. Looking at the requirement of the project, the Metso team suggested a Modular Crushing Plant. The reason was simple -- modular design by Metso has a high degree of flexibility and is perhaps the most compact offering in the industry with great ease of transportation and erection. The 235 TPH Modular plant with, C106 Jaw Crusher and GP11F Cone Crusher was apt for this project
At the outset Metso project team was not really aware of the challenges at site. It was the month of December 2010 when the discussions started moving and the site being Karzok in Leh was informed. This project challenged Metso on several fronts. Going 4860 m above sea level was definitely exciting but the proportional challenges were not very clear. Scarcity of oxygen, logistical inaccessibility, extreme weather conditions are only the common problems. But the task actually opened up post the recce of the site in Karzok, Tso Morori which is 225 kms from Leh, a place with no connectivity, whatever way you see it. No telecommunications and no roads set the adrenalin rushing. To top it all the area was prone to landslides. To add to the problems, the roads are very narrow that further limited the cargo carrying capacity and choice of vehicles.
The road to Karzok is operational only for 5 months a year, that is, from June to October, so Anusha wanted Metso to finish the supply, erection and commissioning in 2 months, to enable production in the next 3 months. To ensure time bound completion of supplies, the Supply Chain Management (SCM) team ensured timely delivery of structures and other parts, as any short supplies would result in huge loss of time and money.
Tough gets tougher
Inspite of structured planning, the project was full of challenges, right from the supply till commissioning, Says Alok Jha, General Manager, CSR, Operations, Metso India, “Initially when we started transferring material to the site, it was found that the permissible load per vehicle, on the hilly terrain of the Zojilla pass and onwards to Leh, is 7 MT. This put a near impossible obstacle of transporting the crushers to site, as crushers suited for this Modular plant was as high as 16 MT. A quick decision to dismantle the crushers and transport them in parts was taken, The Jaw crusher & Cone crusher were taken to our Faridabad warehouse, where they were dismantled and then transported, as semi knocked down parts, to the site.”
Multiple challenges and micro planning at various levels followed that and a core team was constructed to approach the project from several directions. “We were sure that we had to go beyond our scope of supply and several joint decisions led to our value add in procuring even the DG set, its cables and tools to execute this project. Like any other project, unexpected delays did creep in, however the sheer grit, dedication and determination of the team ensured completion of this project in a record time of 35 days! I remember, at the time of commissioning, the customer could not provide us the lifting crane, however, team Metso, found a solution to this problem and commissioned the plant with an Excavator, till the crane was made available. That was quite a challenge!” says Alok.
He further adds, “However, there was one surmounting challenge and that was the communication between the site team and project team on ground. The only way to communicate with the team at site was a satellite phone which could be accessed twice a day. No cellular network is available in that area. Extreme climatic conditions were one of the major hurdles. The temperature sometimes plunged to 40 degree below normal, icy winds sweeps the area and it is always dangerous to work at heights with no vegetation around. People fell sick easily because of mountain sickness, lack of oxygen and cold winds. So, we always had to be ready with the backup resources. The extreme cold weather even restricts working of every individual, to be more precise 3 days of work got reduced to 1 day work at site. All these hurdles could not be planned in advance; they were experienced only when we started working at site.”
Concluded Mr. Reddy, “This is my first project with Metso and I find the team highly competent, committed, and focused. It was not an easy job but what Metso demonstrated was nothing short of a miracle. What impressed me the most was their skill of planning and project management which made the whole execution happen so fast that we were surprised that it could happen in just 35 days given the tough conditions. They were highly proactive and always ready to go an extra mile to assist us in every possible manner. We were ready for production in few weeks and the plant is performing to our expectations.“