BOGOTA, March 22 (Reuters) - Colombia could produce at least 95 million tonnes of coal in 2017, below an initial target of 102 million tonnes, the mining vice-minister said on Wednesday.
The Andean country is the world's fifth-largest producer of the fuel and recorded an output of 90.9 million tonnes last year, the highest figure in its history despite price instability.
"The country's great potential in coal is reflected in the close to 6 billion tonnes of reserves and a potential of 16 billion tonnes," Carlos Cante, vice-minister of mining and energy, told a coal conference in the Caribbean city of Cartagena.
"We expect that 2017 will have the same growth rhythm that we've had, despite projections in our multi-year investment plan showing that in 2017 we were going to get close to 102 million tonnes, we think that with 95 million tonnes in output the country will move forward," Cante said.
The biggest players in Colombia's coal industry are Drummond Co, Glencore Plc, Murray Energy's Colombia Natural Resources, and Cerrejon, which is jointly owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American Plc and Glencore. (Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Sandra Maler)