Colombia's 2013 coal output slips 4 percent in rough 2013

viernes 7 de febrero de 2014 20:09 GYT

By Peter Murphy

BOGOTA Feb 7 (Reuters) - Colombia produced 85.5 million tonnes of coal in 2013, the National Mining Agency said on Friday, a four percent year-on-year drop that took output below target and reflected strikes at the country's top two miners combined with logistics disruption.

The Andean nation is the world's No. 4 coal exporter and is struggling to put last year's disruption behind it in 2014 after the government in January shut down the port of the No. 2 miner, U.S.-based Drummond over failure to comply with a new environmental law. It is expected to resume exports late March.

Royalties the government earned from its second most valuable commodity export after oil totaled 1.2 trillion pesos ($585.3 million) in the fourth quarter of the year compared with 1.6 trillion in the same period of 2012, a drop the agency said was partly also due to lower prices.

The agency did not offer a figure for total royalties earned in the year or a coal production forecast for 2014.

Despite the year-on-year drop, output surged 18 percent in the final quarter of the year versus that period of 2012. Those three months were free of strike action or significant logistics disruption.

Colombia's government ordered Drummond to shut down its port in early January after missing the January 1 deadline to switch to conveyor belt loading and end a more polluting practise of loading ships with cranes and barges.

Drummond, which produces about a third of Colombia's coal, expects to finish building its conveyor loader by late March though a senior government mining official has said the company may manage to complete the installation sooner.

Coal prices in Europe where the bulk of Colombia's exports are consumed, rose sharply on the news of the loss of Drummond's output for three months but have since slipped due to a mild European winter among other factors.   Continuación...