BOGOTA, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Colombia’s biggest coal miner, Cerrejon, is confident it will increase production in 2014 despite dry weather that has forced it to shut down sections of its mine to reduce contamination from dust, its president said on Tuesday.
Cerrejon, a joint venture of Anglo American Plc, BHP Billton Ltd and Glencore Plc, produced 33 million tonnes at its mine, El Cerrejon, in 2013 and exported 33.5 million by drawing on stocks.
“We’re convinced that despite the difficult situation we’re going through in La Guajira, especially with the drought, we’ll be able to contribute to the country with production and exports above what we had in 2013,” the company’s president, Roberto Junguito, told reporters.
He declined to give a specific forecast, but said mining should speed up again from September or October when rain usually falls in the northern La Guajira province where Cerrejon is based.
Cerrejon said in mid-July that it had slowed mining in the southern part of El Cerrejon to keep dust particulate levels within legal limits amid a lack of rainfall.
Colombia, the world’s fourth biggest coal exporter, produced 85.5 million tonnes in 2013, a turbulent year with strikes at the biggest coal miners, on top of logistics disruption. The government has a 2014 production target of 89.1 million tonnes.
Cerrejon employs 10,000 people between its open pit mine and integrated transport system consisting of its privately owned 150-km (93-mile) railway and a port with capacity to handle 180,000 tonnes a year, roughly double national output. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Leslie Adler)