India is considering opening its doors to private companies such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Vale for commercial coal mining to help bridge a demand-supply gap, according to India’s Economic Times newspaper.

The move would come as part of long-pending reforms already underway in India’s coal sector, designed to reduce its reliance on imports.

India produces 450 million tonnes of coal a year – less than 50 million tonnes than what it demands, according to the newspaper.

India has also been investing in new coal-fired plants, and private investment will be paramount to meet demand expected from these.

India is expected to discuss such changes in its July budget presentation.