UPDATE 2-Colombia Cerrejon coal stocks near-depleted by port protest

miércoles 25 de junio de 2014 14:27 GYT

(Adds coal price, security company quote, background on protest)

By Peter Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta

CARACAS/BOGOTA, June 25 (Reuters) - Joint venture Cerrejon, Colombia's biggest coal miner, says it could run out of stocks at its port in one or two days and default on export commitments, as third-party workers blocked its private railway for the sixth day on Wednesday.

Colombia is the world's fourth-biggest exporter of coal and ships the fuel mainly to Europe for power generation. A halt to Cerrejon's exports would slash the Andean nation's coal exports by about a third and could raise European coal prices.

"There are more or less two days worth of coal at the port to load and we have supplies to keep the mine running for about the same time," said Cerrejon's Vice President of Public Affairs, Juan Carlos Restrepo.

"We're looking, together with our lawyers, at the possibility of declaring force majeure given the inability to adhere to our trading commitments, if the situation persists," he said.

Restrepo said security guards employed by contractor Sepecol were blocking Cerrejon's 150-km (93-mile) railway line about 34 km (21 miles) from the mine to protest the upcoming loss of several hundred jobs after Sepecol's contract, which expires on June 30, was not renewed.

Sepecol workers blocking the line since last Friday have refused talks which the company, Restrepo said. Cerrejon has asked the government to try to facilitate dialogue.

The company hopes to increase exports this year from 33 million tonnes last year, when a month-long miner's strike hampered operations.   Continuación...