State-owned Coal India Ltd will undertake a major technological upgrade process as it strives to double annual coal output to 1 billion tonnes by 2020. The Indian Government has mandated an increase in coal production to satisfy the country’s increasing demand for energy.

The government also intends to open up the country’s coal sector to commercial coal mining in order to help meet demand.

Coal India intends to adopt more global mining practices, including technology, so that it becomes more similar to major coal producing companies in the US and Australia. This revamp includes GPS tracking of vehicles to check for coal plunder, having ICT-compliant machinery and electronic fencing at mines.

“Coal India is ready for a technological jump to increase its efficiency and output. A large number of steps are being initiated that include use of satellite technology for green fencing and utilisation of GPS to monitor vehicles,” said chairman and managing director Sutirtha Bhattacharya.

He said that the company intended to use parts of capex and opex to fund the upgrades.

Coal India produces more than 81% of India’s total coal production and has budgeted capital expenditure of Rs6000 crore for the current financial year.

In a bid to clamp down on theft of coal the government recently stated that GPS would be installed on trucks carrying coal to prevent theft and diversion. It said that CCTV would also be installed at vulnerable points like entry and exit gates, weighbridges and sidings.

Upgrading measures also include introducing ICT compliant machinery and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities.

Coal meets around 52% of primary commercial energy needs in India as against 29% the world over and about 66% of country’s power generation is coal based. India is the world’s third largest coal producing country.

The government has set a production target of 550 million tonnes for Coal India in the current financial year. The company missed its production target for 2014-15 by 3%, recording output of 494.23 million tonnes.

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