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CARTAGENA, Colombia, May 15 (Reuters) - Colombia expects coal production to rise 4 percent in 2014 to 89.1 million tonnes, the Mines and Energy Ministry's planning department said on Thursday, in spite of a three-month shut-down at its No. 2 miner, U.S.-based Drummond Co Inc.
The world's No. 4 coal exporter would raise production from last year's 85.5 million tonnes, the UPME planning department said in an email to reporters, despite the stoppage at Drummond which accounts for about a third of Colombia's coal output.
Drummond shut down from early January until the end of March while it upgraded its private port to meet stricter environmental regulations that took effect on Jan. 1, requiring it to load ships directly by conveyor belt instead of by barge.
Participants at the Cinmipetrol mining and energy conference in the coastal city of Cartagena say Colombia's coal sector faces stiffening competition as the United States' shale boom enables it to ship coal to Colombia's top market, Europe.
The 2014 production forecast is a fraction lower than the 89.2 million tonnes produced in 2012.
Colombia's biggest coal miner is Cerrejon, a joint venture between Anglo American Plc, BHP Billiton and Glencore Xstrata Plc. Its chief executive officer, Roberto Junguito said on Thursday the company expected 2014 exports to rise above the 33 million tonnes shipped in 2013 but declined to give a figure. (Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)