Ashok Mitra: Navigating The Future Of Mining Through Balancing Decarbonization & Digitalization

Ashok Mitra: Navigating The Future Of Mining Through Balancing Decarbonization & Digitalization

Ashok Mitra , Chief Executive Officer

Ashok Mitra

Chief Executive Officer

Coal has been a significant energy source since the industrialization of the 19th century, and its popularity continues despite the increasing adoption of renewable energy resources. The global coal market has grown modestly and is projected to continue growing at a CAGR of 1.4 percent, reaching $658.68 billion by 2027. The abundant reserves of coal surpass all other non-renewable energy sources, making it a dominant player in the energy market, particularly in emerging economies. PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC), a coal mining company based in Sangatta, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, is one of the world's largest open-pit mining sites, with a vast mining area spanning 84,938 hectares and a production capacity of 70 million tonnes per year. KPC engages in coal mining and sales to domestic and international customers across various industrial sectors, with a workforce of over 4,499 employees and 21,000 personnel from contractors and associated companies. Let's dive into this one-onone interview with Ashok Mitra, the CEO of PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC).

Please give a brief account of your professional background and experiences. What is the motivation that fuels your daily routines?

At the start of my career, I earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calcutta in India, along with certifications in chartered accountancy and a company secretaryship from the Institutes of Chartered Accountants and Company Secretaries of India. Initially, I worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for six months as an article but soon realized my desire to explore opportunities beyond audit functions. From there, I became an assistant accountant at Dunlop India Ltd before moving on to the Tata Group, where I spent two decades in various roles related to electronics, telecom, and power. In 2007, I was appointed CEO of PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) in Indonesia after Tata Power acquired a 30 percent stake in the company. Presently, I hold positions as Director of PT Bumi Resources Tbk, the holding company of KPC, and Independent Director of Tata International Singapore Pte Ltd. My motivation stems from the challenges faced by the coal industry, particularly the imperative to reduce carbon emissions. In response to these challenges, KPC is working on establishing a coal gasification plant and exploring the possibility of setting up an aluminum project.

You possess about four decades of experience. How has been your path to success and what is your success mantra?

Despite my finance background, I've gained practical knowledge about mining operations by working closely with McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group. This experience has allowed me to not only enhance my knowledge but also share it with others. I focus on cost optimization, and I encourage young people to adopt this mindset. We've made significant strides towards digitization, with almost 50 percent of our operations at Kaltim Coal now digitalized. However, I believe that staying at the forefront of the digital world is crucial for future success. I've developed two mantras for our team, cost optimization, and product improvement, along with a drive for digitalization, which will be used to evaluate performance going forward.

As a leader, I believe it is my responsibility to motivate my team and remind them that coal will continue to be a source for the next 15 years

How would you define Pt Kaltim Prima Coal as an organization and its position in the market? What is the unique proposition that your organization offers to clients?

Our organization, a subsidiary of PT Bumi Resources Tbk, primarily focuses on coal production and is considered a leading coal company in the market. While our mineral unit is a recent addition, KPC is the biggest coal producer and offers coal of variousqualities, ranging from high to low grade with a quality of 6,500 kcal/kg. We produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal, with 15 million tonnes sold domestically and 45 million tonnes exported globally, making us a reliable choice for clients looking for coal of different grades.

Tell us about your leadership approach. What are the guidelines or methodologies you follow to lead your team?

As a leader, I believe it is my responsibility to motivate my team and remind them that coal will continue to be a source for the next 15 years. This is especially important since the industry is often viewed negatively by society. Retaining and motivating employees has become a major focus for me, with a particular emphasis on human resources.

What is the future destination you are heading towards?

In the next five years, our company's growth will not be limited to the coal sector but extend to other industries such as aluminum. We are currently exploring the possibility of setting up an aluminum plant and a coal gasification plant to produce ammonia and methanol. This expansion plan is not only aimed at growing our coal company, but it is also a long-term objective that we plan to achieve by 2030. We aim to establish an aluminum plant from the ground up, including the OB finery.

In light of your strong experience within the industry, what advice would you give to budding industry leaders?

As a message to future leaders, I believe that we are currently facing a need for decarbonization and digitalization. As leaders in the industry, it is our responsibility to consider how we can reduce carbon emissions and embrace digital transformation. It's important that we pass on this message to the next generation of leaders.

Ashok Mitra, Chief Executive Officer, KPC

Ashok, a highly respected figure in the mining industry, has been serving as the CEO of PT Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) since April 2022. Ashok's leadership skills and experience are anticipated to drive KPC to new heights as one of Indonesia's leading mining firms.

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