Man of Mettle
It is May, 1994. A motley group of mining engineers from Hindustan Zinc, then a public sector manufacturer of Zinc, Lead, and Silver, is at work deep inside the company’s Mochia underground mines near Udaipur in Rajasthan. It is about to finish a project begun three years before. But the task at hand is a complex one, called “pillar blasting” – it is going to be the biggest pillar blast in India. The atmosphere at the project site and in the company’s Corporate office at Udaipur is tense but calm. The project leader, a 40-years-old mining engineer, carries out the final checks. The responsibility was immense as the Mochia mine lies beneath the mountain and any imprecise blast can create catastrophe, leading to huge loss of lives and property. the project leader has been meticulously fine-tuning the position and depth of the holes which are drilled to place the explosives, the type and amount of explosive to be placed in them, and the timing and sequence of the blasts.
At the designated time, the detonator button is pressed, A series of rapid explosions rock the mine sending reverberations kilometers away. As the dust settles, it becomes clear that the effort is a huge success – the identified pillars have been blasted but more importantly, the mountain has not caved in. The mine structures including the main shaft tower remain intact. The tense atmosphere at the site and Corporate Office changed to jubilations and celebrations.
The young Engineer who carried out this successful mission was MBM Engineering College graduate of 1975 Mining batch Mr. Akhilesh Joshi, who went on to become CEO and Whole Time Director of Hindustan Zinc Limited from 2010 to 2015 and President of Vedanta’s Global Zinc Business during 2015-16.
College and Higher Education.
Having done his schooling from Lava Sardargarh( Rajsamand Dist) Er. Joshi took admission in MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur in the year 1970 and after completing BE (Mining) in 1975, Er. Akhilesh Joshi joined the then Public Sector Undertaking Hindustan Zinc Limited at Zawar Mines. He had two other plum job offers from reputed organizations but chose to join PSU as he wanted to prove his mettle in the hardcore Mining field. Subsequently, he appeared for the First Class of Mines Manager’s Certificate of Competency from Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and cleared this prestigious examination with flying colors. He also completed a post-graduate diploma in “Economic Evaluations of Mining projects” from Paris (France).
Meteoric Rise : From Mining Engineer to CEO
The success of Mochia mine project was a turning point for the career of Er. Joshi, also established him as a star employee destined for a larger future role. Despite being a Public Sector Undertaking, the working culture in Hindustan Zinc Limited was just like a private company. Talents used to be spotted early on and given free hand to work for the growth of the company. The same was the case with Er.Joshi. “Under the leadership of Er. Joshi, we completed India’s largest pillar blast, firing 145 Tonne of Explosive in Underground Mines in 1994 at Mochia, explosive yielding 5.6 lakhs tonne of ore, and using pyrotechnic initiation. I still remember that we politely quipped to an ill-intentioned query of one of Senior Management that the blast was planned and successfully blasted by none other than M.B.M. Engineers”- says Er. Pramod Rajmeny(1978 Mining Batch), who was the second man in command in the mass blast operation.
His rare blend of managerial and technical skills enabled him to rise to the highest post of Chief Executive Officer and Whole Time Director – and lead HZL from 2012 to 2015. Under his strong fundamentals of the core subject- Mining, HZL took giant strides transforming the latter into the largest integrated zinc producer in the world producing over 1 million tonne Zinc and Lead smelting capacity from a sleeping PSU trailing over 0.3 mtpa (million tonnes per annum). It bears testimony that a Company having its Lead (CEO) with expertise in the core subject (mining) can grossly change footprints of DNA of progress. His “out of the box” thinking and global vision manifested to exponentially ramp up (tripling-up) the production capacities of all its captive mines. Production of Rampura Agucha Mine (RAM) was ramped up to 6.5mtpa in 2011-13 making it the largest Lead Zinc producing mine in the world. Similarly, the Sindeswar Khurd mine was steered to produce more than 5mtpa thus becoming the largest and most mechanized underground metal mine of India. Similar blueprints were made for the phenomenal ramp-up of production of Zawar Group of mines and Kayad mines.
What makes Er. Joshi’s success all the more significant is that he has managed to effortlessly cross the public sector-private sector divide. He first proved his worth when Hindustan Zinc was a public sector unit. But after the Vedanta Group took over the company following its divestment in 2002, he impressed his private-sector employers too with his expertise.
Er. Joshi was appointed as President Global Zinc Business, Vedanta in 2015 where his exemplary contribution in devising synergy between Indian and overseas Zinc business & Gamsberg mining projects at South Africa had helped Vedanta strengthen its global market share.
Awards & Accolades
During a career span of more than forty years, Er. Akhilesh Joshi has contributed immensely to the Global mining industry. He has visited many international mines like – Lead, Zinc, Copper & Gold mines in France, Australia, Canada, Chilli, South Africa, Zambia & Armenia to bring international best practices. He has also attended World Mining Congress, Asian Mining Congress, and many other conferences. Recognizing his immense work and contribution to the Mining Industry Government of India conferred on him the highest mining award ” National Mineral Award-2006″. He was also felicitated by the then honorable Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukharjee for his excellent contribution to the Mining Sector in the year 2012. In the year 2013, he was given a Mining Engineer of the year award by the Mining Engineers Association of India ( MEAI). In the same year, he has been conferred the best CEO award ( Core Sector) from the prestigious Business Today Group.
Life at MBM:
Er. Joshi had a great love for playing cricket in his school and college days. “In Mining Engineering availability of the books was a major challenge, There was no internet and not even photocopying facilities. Classroom teaching by professors was of great help and that paved the foundation for my future career.” His strong interest in Mining Engineering led him to become chief of the Technical Society of Mining Students (TSMS) in his early college days.
Message for Youngsters :
His mother Mrs. Gita Joshi has had the greatest influence on him, “Her words ‘You will achieve what you think’ is a mantra that I have followed throughout my career, and the same mantra is relevant today for young Engineers and Students ” Er. Joshi says. ” If you can dream it, you can get do it” was his parting remarks.
This is such an inspirational and motivational journey of Er. Akhilesh Joshi. We wish him great success and happiness in life.
Er.Jainy Jain pursuing B Tech in Information Technology from MBM Engineering college Jodhpur. She is a key member of MBM Stories team. Her hobbies include reading and writing.