On-line monitoring of low rank coal quality during input to a process has the potential to provide benefits through: • anticipation of coal quality variations prior to utilisation; • provision of a tool to help determine the influence of coal quality on process behaviour, and • provide a direct measure of coal quality for pricing. Moisture and ash are the two most significant coal quality parameters for combustion. They determine the energy content which can be derived from the coal and the problems arising from the presence of ash in the process (eg ash fouling, corrosion, erosion, particulate emissions and ash disposal). Extensive pilot-scale testing and full-scale experience has shown that specific coal/ash constituents (eg Na2O/ash ratio, acid-soluble aluminium, silica, sulphur contents, etc) are also important for the behaviour of Latrobe Valley brown coal during combustion, ash formation, deposition and removal of ash in precipitators and furnace ash hoppers. This paper discusses the range of on-line analysis techniques which have been investigated and their application to low rank coal analysis. Preliminary results from a joint SECV/CSIRO project which aims to develop two separate advanced instrument systems are also presented. These systems are based on: • microwave attenuation and phase shift – for direct determination of moisture content; and • inelastic neutron scattering – to provide total hydrogen, carbon, chlorine and ash contents, with potential for calculation of moisture content, specific energy, sodium content and Na20/ash ratio using correlations.