• Metals, Minerals & Manufacturing

    India is endowed with a large variety of rich mineral resources. Of the 84 minerals it produces, four serve mainly as fuel, 11 are metallic, 49 non-metallic and 20 minor minerals


    CSIR’s mandate in this area is to pursue R&D programmes for effective utilization of minerals and ores including over burden, lean and off grade ores and wastes, and develop environment-friendly processing technology for metals and manufacturing.


    CSIR’s emphasis has been on upgrading the knowledgebase towards better understanding of the raw material proposition, process dynamics improvement in the existing technologies, maximizing utilization of the available resources and production capacity in an eco-friendly manner. Not only has it carried out extensive mineral exploration surveys, evolved innovative mining methods, developed a host of technologies for beneficiation of minerals for production of Fe, Cu, Al, Zn, Ni, Mo, Mg, Mn, Ti, Cr, P2O5, etc., and alloys, it has also developed various techniques and a large number of formulations for protecting metal items/structures from corrosion, and technologies having direct relevance to society. A case in point is the development of eco-friendly technology for the foundries in Agra, which had been closed owing to pollution problems.  The technology developed by CSIR led to their reopening, and thereby protecting the jobs of thousands and also the Taj, in addition to the usual economic benefits.

    CSIR has also developed a large variety of farm and industrial equipment and machinery, including tractors, harvesters, oil expellers, fluidized bed dryers, tea plucking machine, and robots for sea bed mining etc.

    This sector is served mainly by: the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad; Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR), Dhanbad; National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML), Jamshedpur; Institute of Minerals and Meterials Technology (IMMT), Bhubaneswar; North-East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST), Jorhat; National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram; Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI), Karaikudi; and Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), Durgapur.

    The core competence of the various CSIR laboratories serving this sector is as follows:
    Labs Areas of Core Competence
    National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML, Jamshedpur) Mineral processing and engineering including characterization of ores, minerals and products, beneficiation of ores, minerals and recovery of values from industrial wastes, agglomeration of ore fines and concentrates, flotation and electro flotation, mechano-chemical activation of minerals; pyro, hydro and electro-metallurgical processes of metal extraction, gainful utilization of natural resources and solid waste management and metal casting and forming and alloy development.
    Institute of Mineral and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar Development of environment-friendly and energy-efficient technology for: processing of non-ferrous minerals for production of strategic metals, recovery and utilization of values from secondaries/wastes/effluents, processing of iron-bearing materials for alloy production using different advanced techniques such as smelting reduction, production of advanced materials by adopting chemical/electrochemical/biotechnological routes under different conditions, preparation and testing of agglomerates to find their suitability for smelting purpose
    Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research,(CIMFR, Dhanbad) Coal Characterization, beneficiation, etc.Technologies for exploitation of coal and other mineral deposits, geo-mechanics and mining methods, safety standards in mines, eco-friendly mining practices, disaster management of mines, beach placer deposits, design of mining equipment and machinery
    Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI, Karaikudi) Electro-metallurgy, electro-pyrometallurgy, industrial metal finishing, and protection from corrosion
    National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI, Hyderabad) Mineral exploration and engineering geophysics
    National Institute of Oceanography (NIO, Goa) Coastal/offshore surveys and mining
    North-East Institute of Science and Technology, (NEIST, Jorhat) Characterization, beneficiation, agglomeration and utilization of ores and minerals
    National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, (NIIST, Thiruvanthapuram) Solid waste remediation processes, beneficiation processes for value addition to mineral resources, mineral separation by flotation, flocculation and hydrocyclonning
    Central Mechanical Research Institute (CMERI, Durgapur) Robotics and mechatronics, mechanical product design and manufacturing technology, rapid prototyping and tooling, farm and industrial equipment and machinery, new generation/platform products and manufacturing processes, quality control and standardization of products and materials, and residual life assessment of industrial/power plants, etc.


    Knowledge-based Products/Technologies Developed


    Plants based on studies at NML

    • Iron ores: 12  (private and govt. owned companies namely Tata Steel, SAIL, Vijag Steel Plant, Neelanchal Ispat Nigam, Vijaynagar Steel Plant, Kudremukh Iron Ore Company, Salem Steel Plant, Chowgule, Sesa Goa etc.)
    • Non-ferrous and non-metallic ores: 8 (HCL, HZL, GMDC, MPMMC, Sikkim Mining Corpn. etc.)
    • Coal: 4 (Tata Steel, Coal India)

    Products/technologies commercialized

    • NML Certified Reference Materials of plain carbon steels, low alloy steels, stainless steel, ferroalloys, ores, refractories, etc.
    • Liquid gold technology
    • Electrolytic manganese metal (EMM) and manganese dioxide (EMD) from Indian manganese ore
    • Extraction of zinc from zinc oxide and zinc ash
    • Production of vanadium pentoxide and Fe-V from alumina sludge
    • Production of copper powder from pure metal and waste solution

    Technologies available for licensing/commercialization: Extraction of tungsten from low-grade wolframite deposit; Production of synthetic cryolite; and extraction of nickel from lateritic nickel ore and chromite over burden.

    Products/technologies under development: Nickel from spent nickel catalyst; Acid/metallurgical grade fluorspar and bauxite concentrate from low grade ore for refractories; Kyanite concentrate from low grade ores, graphite for industrial use, high quality magnesite (<2% SiO2), Manganese concentrate from ferruginous/silicious ores, super-concentrate from blue dust for hard and soft ferrites, super-concentrate from limestone; Production of ferro chrome; Development of near-net shape components of Al-alloy by squeeze casting process; Pilot scale smelting and pre-feasibility studies on nickel-chromium-cobalt bearing magnetite ores; Leaching at ambient temperature and pressure ; Processing at high temperature and pressure to produce metals/materials.; Bio-processing of ores/concentrates; Metal separation and recovery; Development of a freeze line model for the blast furnace ; Development of a model for predicting the transport phenomena and combustion behaviour in the raceway zone of a blast furnace; Estimation of remnant lining thickness in a BF using non-invasive techniques; Study of the softening and meltdown behaviour of iron ore/sinter under simulated BF conditions; Analysis of silicon transfer to the molten metal in the blast furnace; Beneficiation and agglomeration of iron ores, beneficiation of lean tungsten ores, clean coal (coking/non-coking), processing of copper ores, processing of complex sulphide ores.

    • Sulphation of the COB ore slurry state for nickel extraction to reduce corrosion to a minimum. By this low energy process, nickel extractability in the final product is more than 90%.
    • Nodules collected from Indian Ocean having 0.89% Cu, 0.996% Ni, 0.12% Co, 18.31% Mn and 6.44% Fe have been characterized by petrological and XRD studies.
    • An improved flotation process involving innovative reagent scheme has been developed for effective separation of valuable minerals from the gangues.
    • Collector-less batch flotation of coking coal has been carried out with frothers, viz., pine oil, MIBC and Nalco N-8586. All frothers show considerable collecting property.
    • Flotation studies have been carried out on a lead-zinc ore assaying 2.47% Pb and 13.6% Zn. The effects of various parameters like granulometry for rougher and cleaner flotation, pH of the pulp, dosage of collector, depressant and activator have been studied in detail.
    • Pilot scale column flotation studies have been carried out on the beneficiation of limestone to remove silica from limestone by reverse floatation in a laboratory floatation column.
    • A flowsheet has been developed to produce concentrate of > 50% Cr2O3 with < 2.0% SiO2 which has got a good market potential including export. This grade of chromite ore was earlier considered as a waste and not used in the industry. The beneficiary shall be M/s Orissa Mining Corporation Ltd.


    • Design testing and operation of flotation columns for zinc cleaning at Dariba mines of HZL, Rajasthan
    • Installation of commercial column for copper cleaning in Rangpo complex sulphide ore beneficiation plant for Sikkim Mining Corporation
    • Installation of commercial column to clean graphite concentrate of the existing plant for Utkal Graphite Limited, Bhubaneswar
    • Flow sheets developed for chromite beneficiation leading to setting up of two commercial plants.
    • Installation of flotation columns to recover coal fines from washery rejects
    • Setting up of sintering plants for utilization of iron ore and manganese ore fines
    • Utilisation of secondaries, wastes like catalysts for production of high value metals like nickel, cobalt etc.
    • Iron ore, coke and chrome ore briquetting for industrial utilisation
    • Evaluation of process variables in continuous scale bio-oxidation of complex sulphides ores/concentrates of Ambamata/Sikkim (Ministry of Mines).
    • Bioreactor leaching of zinc tailings (Hindustan Zinc Limited)
    • Iron control in hydrometallurgical leach liquor using Thiobacillus type of microorganism (Department of Biotechnology, Government of India)
    • Removal of heavy metal ions from metallurgical/industrial effluents by using biomass (Ministry of Environment, Government of India)
    • Design, development and commissioning of a 50 kW extended non-transferred arc plasma reactor for thermal plasma dissociation of zircon at rate of 10kg/h
    • Preparation of zirconia toughened mullite
    • Preparation of titania rich slag by thermal plasma processing of ilmenite and pre-reduced ilmenite (process demonstrated to NMDC, Hyderabad)
    • Thermal plasma synthesis of fused WC, TiC, TiCN
    • Stoichiometric magnesium aluminate composition


    Electro Hydrometallurgy:

    • Electrolytic chromium powder (35 tonnes/annum unit of Indian Chrome Metals has come up in Rourkela; technology also licensed to HZL; India is the 7th country to have produced chromium metal)
    • Gallium from Bayer’s liquor of aluminium industry through amalgam metallurgy (pilot plant set up at Madras Aluminium Company Ltd.; also licensed to National Aluminium Company Limited, Bhubaneswar)
    • Electrolytic manganese dioxide by the chloride route
    • Technology for effluent treatment

    Electro Pyrometallurgy:

    • Sodium and misch metals (technology commercialized)
    • Calcium carbide (technology commercialized; a plant has also been put up at Myanmar)
    • Production of magnesium metal from magnesite, concentrated sea bitterns and byproduct MgCl2, through modular cell concept (energy consumption brought down from 22-23 kWh to 14kWh per kg of Mg), multipolar cell (cost effective, 12kWh per kg of Mg), and monopolar cell (energy consumption 11kWh Mg) (Mg plants set up at DMRL, Hyderabad)
    • Low temperature aluminium electrolysis (process can save Rs 300-400 crore annually)
    • Production of calcium carbide, calcium silicide and fused alumina


    • Electroforming of metal components

    Industrial Metal Finishing:

    • Decorative, architectural and hard anodizing
    • Electropolishing of stainless steel, aluminium and brass
    • Electroless Ni, Cu and Co plating on various metals and plastics
    • Electroplating of Cu, Ni, Cr, Cd, Sn, Zn and precious metals
    • Plating on Ni-Fe, Zn, Ni, Ni-W and other alloys and co-deposition of diamond and other inert particles
    • Development of plating formulations for low nickel, SRHS chrome salt and gold, platinum and palladium plating concentrates/solutions
    • Continuous plating of Ni on AI, Ni on steel and Sn on Cu wires, also zinc on mild strips
    • Electrochemical marking on metals
    • Metal colouring; colouring stainless steel; black colouring
    • Conversion coatings
    • Selective coatings for solar energy utilization
    • Brush plating of common metals
    • Pulse plating of precious metals
    • Development of silver/ silver chloride electrodes for electro cardiogram

    Corrosion Science & Engineering:

    • Development of various alloy anodes and techniques for impressed current systems for cathodic protection
    • Cathodic protection of buried marine structures
    • Acid pickling inhibitors and inhibitors for cooling water systems and oil wells
    • Vapour phase inhibitor for protection of steel during storage
    • Development of inhibitors for cement and concrete
    • Development of rust converting primer, rust converter and various other primers
    • Electrophoretic coatings, reflection road marking paints, sign boards, anti-fouling paints, special painting on wet surface
    • Strippable coatings for temporary protection
    • High built epoxy coatings for pipelines
    • Process for phosphate coatings, chromate coatings, oxide coatings, etc.

    NEIST, Jorhat

    • Commercial scale process for preparation of a chemical additive/surface active agent for removal of aluminous gaunge minerals from Indian iron ore, effective in existing iron ore washery.
    • Cold bond pelletization of iron ore fines, suitable as burden materials in blast furnaces for iron extraction.
    • Flow charts for generating high price grades of kaolin clay from North Eastern region.
    • Process for removal of 50% ash from North Eastern coal.


    • Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to operate at a depth of 200 m with unlimited operational time.
    • 35 hp tractor, SONALIKA (upgradable to 60hp, with features suited to Indian conditions), technology released to International Tractors Limited, Hoshiarpur; has wide export market potential. The first indigenous tractor in India, SWARAJ; was also courtesy CIMFR technology.
    • Oil expellers of different capacities
    • Cashewnut, sunflower and groundnut decorticators
    • Twin screw press for palm oil extraction
    • Honey processing plant
    • 200 tph fluidized bed dryer for oilseeds
    • Manually operated and portable pedal pump for irrigation purpose with delivery of water @600 litres/h, lifting height of 6 ft. This does not require any electric power
    • Deep well hand pump India Mark-II
    • Shallow well hand pump
    • Improved iron removal plant to remove excess iron content present in the ground water
    • Austempered Ductile Iron (ADI) crankshaft
    • Auto punching machine for jacquard card design

    Charting the Course Ahead

    Research is intended to be taken up in the state-of-the art SX/IX approach, which would result in the production of highly pure metal and oxidic substances, and also the hydrothermal synthesis of metals/oxides of desired nano-size, which will help produce high value materials for specific hi-tech applications. Bioprocessing of the lean grade ores/wastes/secondaries is another area, which will ensure exploitation of such resources to meet the growing demand of metals, with low energy consumption and in an eco-friendly manner. Development of mutant strains suitable for efficient bio-leaching of metals and bio-remediation of spent streams/effluents and acid mine drainage of sulphide mines and dumps will also be an important activity.

    With increased focus on planned utilisation of mineral resources coupled with environmental consideration, there is an urgent need for utilization of low-grade resources as well as off-grade rejects. Also, owing to depletion of high-grade resources and increased complexity of lean ores, continuous pursuit of finding economically feasible process has become very important. Proper utilization of the fines generated from mining and processing is beneficial towards conservation of natural resources as well as reduction of environmental related problems. R&D studies in the following areas: would therefore be pursued: mineralogical characterisation, mineralogy of agglomerates for identification, characterization and quantification of mineral phases, characterization of minor metals (Co, Nb, Ta, Mo, Zr etc.) from natural ores (pegmatite) and industrial wastes (for byproduct recovery), marine economic minerals, near coast marine sulphide deposits etc., dry beneficiation of ores and minerals, modelling, simulation, optimization and control of mineral beneficiation circuits, newer methods of beneficiation like microwave treatment, alumina mapping from ore to agglomerates, composite pelletization, pot sintering studies with extremely fine particulates.

    Also, new techniques and methodologies would be developed to improve yield in the areas of hydrocarbons and mineral exploration.

    In the area of manufacturing technologies, focus will be in the area of robotics& mechatronics, rapid prototyping and tooling and development of quality farm/industrial machinery/components. Protection of metals from corrosion, etc., would also be an important area of R&D.