Coal India Ltd is preparing for a major technological upgradation on the lines of global mining practices followed in countries like the US and Australia that will include GPS tracking of vehicles to check coal plunder and having a ICT-complaint machinery.
The revamp will also cover electronic fencing of mines.
The move comes against the backdrop of the single largest global producer of coal being mandated to double its output to 1 billion tonne by 2020, contributing significantly to India growth story. Besides, the government is looking at opening up commercial coal mining to private players.
“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,” CIL Chairman and Managing Director Sutirtha Bhattacharya told PTI.
On funding of the upgradation, Bhattacharya said: “Parts of capex (capital expenditure) and opex (operational expenditure) both will be utilised for the same.”
According to officials, the upgradation will be on the lines of practices followed by miners in the US and Australia.
The miner which produces over 81 per cent of India’s overall coal production has lined up a capital expenditure of Rs 6,000 crore for the current fiscal.
Admitting pilferage of coal, government said recently that a project for introduction of global positioning system (GPS) on trucks carrying coal is underway to prevent theft and diversion besides installation of CCTVs at all vulnerable points like entry and exit gates, weigh bridges and sidings to keep a regular watch.
The steps for upgradation also include introducing ICT compliant machinery and Enterprise resource planning (ERP) to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities.
To meet India’s coal needs, government has set a target of 1 billion tonne of coal production by the company by 2020.
The move for technological upgradation of Coal India also holds much significance in view of government planning to open commercial coal mining to private players for the first time in over four decades.
“We are preparing groundwork for commercial mining… We are looking at a few mines and the work has been undertaken to identify mines,” Coal Secretary Anil Swarup has said.
This would be the first time in over 40 years that the government would throw open the auction to private players.
This follows another decision taken last month to allow the state utilities to commercially mine coal and sell to the private companies.
Coal meets around 52 per cent of primary commercial energy needs in India as against 29 per cent the world over and about 66 per cent of country’s power generation is coal based.
India is the 3rd largest coal producing country in the world after China and USA.
The government has set a production target of 550 million tonnes for the PSU for the current fiscal.
The company had missed the production target for 2014-15 by 3 per cent, recording an output of 494.23 million tonne.