BOGOTA Jan 10 Colombia's government is looking
into alternative ways for U.S.-based miner Drummond to export
its coal after shutting down the company's port loading
operations, newspaper El Espectador reported on Friday.
Wednesday's shutdown, which resulted because Drummond
was violating a new environmental law, came as a
surprise for the European coal market since the government had
made arrangements in December that would have enabled the
company to keep loading and pay fines until it could comply. The
government backtracked this week, however, and shut down
The decision is likely to slash exports of coal from
Colombia, the world's fourth-biggest exporter, by around a third
if no work-around solution is found.
Mines and Energy Minister Amylkar Acosta said in an
interview with El Espectador that other private and already
legally compliant ports had the capacity to load more coal.
Acosta cited Prodeco, which is owned by Glencore Xstrata Plc
and whose Puerto Nuevo facility is right next to
Drummond's shuttered one.
"We are seeing what capacity Puerto Nuevo has and the port
of Santa Marta," Acosta said. "Private companies cannot shut
their conveyor belts off and prevent access to the ports."
Those words suggested the government might somehow be able
to force Prodeco to carry Drummond's coal. A source at small
Colombian miner CNR, which is owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc
and whose exports have also been halted by the new law,
said Prodeco operated Puerto Nuevo under some kind of public
concession which could see it obliged to open the facility to
The new law, which took effect on Jan. 1, requires coal
exporters to use enclosed conveyor belt systems that stretch far
offshore to waiting ships, to drop coal directly into the
Drummond and CNR do not yet have the infrastructure in
place, but the new law, aimed at tackling environmental
pollution, bans them from continuing to load using cranes and
barges, which cause dust and lumps of coal to fall into the sea.