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Coal India is preparing for a technology overhaul to bring it in line with global mining practices implemented by companies in countries such as the US and Australia.

The latest move comes as the government is set to open up commercial coal mining to private companies in the sector.

Furthermore, the company plans for technology upgraded as it is planning to increase its output to one billion tonnes by 2020.

Expected to cost around Rs3.5bn ($52m) initially, the upgrade will include GPS tracking of vehicles to check coal theft.

The plans will also cover electronic fencing of mines, introduction of ICT compliant machinery and enterprise resource planning (ERP) in order to collate data from various business activities.

Coal India chairman and managing director Sutirtha Bhattacharya told PTI that the company is prepared for a technological revamp in order to boost its output.

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"Its impact would be in billions of dollars."

Coal India’s unit Mahanadi Coalfields has already implemented technology modernisation.

As part of the initiative, the company has installed CCTV cameras at shipment sites and linked all its trucks with satellites. The vehicles are also fitted with radio frequency identification tags.

Reuters quoted Coal Secretary Anil Swarup saying: "This is Coal India’s biggest technological overhaul, and its impact would be in billions of dollars.

"The whole shift towards supplying quality coal to customers further increases the use of technology to avoid pilferage."

Image: Coal India’s upgrade plan is expected to cost around $52m initially. Photo: courtesy of nipitphand/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.