BOGOTA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Colombia says it is holding to an end-of-year deadline for coal exporters to switch to cleaner, machine-driven loading of coal onto ships despite concerns some miners will not be ready on time and might be forced to stop shipments, Platts reported.
Miners in the world’s No. 4 coal exporter currently transfer coal from the pier to barges then again onto ships out at sea with cranes, but the method will be banned from Jan. 1 to cut pollution from dust and lumps of coal that fall into the ocean.
Analysts speculate that Colombia’s No. 2 coal miner, Drummond, will not finish construction of a suspended conveyor belt system taking the coal way out to sea to waiting ships until weeks or months after the deadline, which at worst would force Drummond to halt temporarily exports.
Goldman Sachs’ coal project is also behind schedule in building its own system, some coal sources say.
“The [end of year] deadline cannot be extended for any company ... it is part of a law and the ministry cannot modify it,” a Mines and Energy ministry spokesman said.
If the mining companies are not ready on time and no work-around is found to enable conventional loading to be extended into 2014, Colombian exports could immediately drop by the one-third that Drummond contributed, plus Goldman Sachs’ output.
That would likely push up prices for European ARA coal delivered to the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, which were around $84.40 a tonne on Tuesday. Much of Colombia’s coal is exported to Europe and used to produce electricity.
Colombia’s mining minister, Amylkar Acosta, said on Tuesday the country would fall about 10 percent short of its coal production target for 2013, producing around 85 million tonnes instead of the 94 million target it had set previously.