* ARA coal for April down $0.45 at $74.75/tonne
* Environment regulator says it is inspecting work at Drummond dock (Updates with Colombia environmental regulator comment)
LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - European physical coal prices declined further on Wednesday as traders expected Colombian coal exports from miner Drummond to resume this week after its port was shut in January.
Cargoes for delivery in April to the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp (ARA) were trading at $74.75 per tonne by 1705 GMT, down $0.45 from Tuesday’s settlement.
Drummond, Colombia’s second-biggest coal miner, stopped exports in January as a new law banned the use of cranes and barges to load boats, due to the pollution caused.
Drummond has been upgrading its port to meet the environmental legislation, but in the meantime, Colombia’s exports have been reduced by a third.
A few weeks ago, the Colombian government said it expected exports to resume from around March 24.
Colombia’s environmental regulator told Reuters on Wednesday that it must inspect new installations at Drummond’s docks before it can resume exports, a process expected to take only a day.
Nubia Orozco, director of the environmental licensing agency ANLA, said it had been observing the works at Drummond’s port in recent days and that final approval would likely come quickly, making it possible the port could reopen this week.
A coal trader told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that he expected exports to resume this week, or “by March 31”.
“An 80,000 tonnes vessel will be the first to load coal at the port. Capesize vessels are expected to start loading in mid-April,” he added.
A mild winter has already left Europe’s coal stocks relatively high, and a warm start to spring has lessened demand, so any further increase in supply will weigh on prices.
South African coal cargoes for delivery in April from the Richards Bay terminal fell by $0.40 to $73.10 a tonne, while the May contract slipped by $0.45 to $71.75 a tonne. (Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Sophie Hares and Anthony Barker)