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BOGOTA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Colombia, the world’s fourth biggest coal exporter, produced 88.6 million tonnes of the fossil fuel in 2014, the National Mining Agency (ANM) said on Friday, a 3.6 percent increase from 85.5 million tonnes a year earlier.
The Andean nation’s biggest miner, joint venture Cerrejon, produced 34.4 million tonnes. The second-biggest miner, U.S.-based Drummond produced 26.8 million tonnes at its La Loma and El Descanso mines. Glencore Xstrata’s Prodeco unit produced 12.6 million tonnes at its Calenturitas mine.
Goldman Sachs affiliate Colombia Natural Resources produced 869,724 tonnes of coal at its La Francia mine while no production was listed at its other project, El Hatillo.
The company was forced to shut its port at the end of 2013 as it could not comply with a new regulation requiring companies switch to a less-polluting method of loading coal on to ships. It has now reached a deal with the Carbosan terminal of a local public port to load its coal for export.
The environmental regulation also forced Drummond to halt exports from early January to the end of March last year.
Coal prices in Europe, Colombia’s main market, slumped to their lowest in nine years on Jan. 26 to $55.60 per tonne. They have risen since, to $63.65 by Friday.
Though Colombia’s coal sector has largely been free of logistics and labor strife since adapting to the new environmental regulation, a recent court ruling will ban the overnight use of its biggest coal railway from Friday night.
The Fenoco railway will no longer be able to run for the six-hour period between 10.30 p.m. and 4.30 a.m. (0330 and 0930 GMT) after complaints about noise by residents of one municipality, Bosconia, which lies about halfway along the 226-km (140-mile) track. The government is seeking to ease the restriction.
The three miners who operate the railway - Drummond, Prodeco and CNR - produce close to half the country’s coal output. (Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Marguerita Choy)