Colombia maintains 2013 coal production goal despite strikes
BOGOTA, Sept 17
BOGOTA, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Colombia's government will for now maintain its goal for 2013 coal output of 94 million tonnes, Mines and Energy Minister Amylkar Acosta said on Tuesday, days after a seven-week strike ended at the local operations of U.S.-based miner Drummond.
The coal sector in the world's fourth largest exporter has had a tumultuous year between logistics disruption on a key railroad and at Drummond's private port, then a month-long strike at the country's top miner Cerrejon before the Drummond stoppage.
"We're going to struggle to meet this goal, that's clear, but we're going to make every effort to somehow overcome the impact that this conflict has had on production," Acosta said of the Drummond strike. It was declared amid a dispute over pay, conditions and potential layoffs of port workers next year.
Coal is a major earner for the government through royalties mining companies pay.
Drummond said it restarted operations on Saturday evening for the first time since July 23. It was forced to declare a partial force majeure on some contracted shipments it was unable to deliver during the strike.
Acosta said the government had still not made an evaluation of the likely impact of the Drummond strike on coal output for the year.
"It's a matter of waiting for the company to reschedule its activities and eventually recover some of its production that it didn't mine during the stoppage," he said.
Colombia is an important supplier of coal to European markets but the loss of about one third of national coal output, which Drummond contributes, had little effect on prices because of the ample supplies on the global market.
Coal prices rose on Tuesday to their highest level in six weeks as a weaker dollar provided an opportune moment for European buyers to purchase and due to a cold start to autumn in Europe which has bumped up demand for electricity.