BOGOTA Nov 15 Colombian coal production fell 8
percent in the third quarter to 21 million tonnes versus the
same period last year as labor disputes cut output in the
world's fourth-largest coal exporter, according to data from the
Strikes at a key coal railway serving some of the country's
top producers and at a large mine have had a negative impact on
output in Latin America's top exporter of the material.
Drummond, the country's second-biggest exporter, saw
production increase a paltry 1.7 percent in the quarter to
around 6 million tonnes versus a year before. Output fell 8.5
percent versus the second quarter this year.
Glencore-owned mines saw output drop 21 percent due to a
3-month-long strike at La Jagua coal mine. La Jagua's is the
highest-quality coal produced in Colombia and the mine's
production plunged 92 percent in the third quarter.
Compared with the second quarter of 2012, total output from
the mines f ell nearly 19 percent.
The walkout to demand higher wages and better working
conditions started on July 19 and became one of the longest
labor strikes in the sector's recent history, ending in late
Drummond and Glencore's Prodeco unit are shareholders in the
Fenoco railway whose workers went on strike for more than a
month in July-August.
In the July-to-September period, coal production at
Colombia's largest exporter, Cerrejon, fell about 2 percent to
8.7 million tonnes versus the same period in 2011, regulator
data showed. It decreased around 7 percent versus the second
The Andean nation's thermal coal sector is dominated by
major producers such as Glencore, Drummond and Cerrejon, which
is jointly owned by BHP Billiton Plc, Anglo American Plc
and Xstrata Plc.
Labor strife has forced the government to lower its
production goal to 93 million tonnes for 2012 from a previous
target of 97 million tonnes. Colombia produced 85.8 million
tonnes last year.
Colombia's mining industry has also faced increased attacks
by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels this
year despite Bogota sending thousands of additional troops to
protect the sector.
The government and FARC guerrillas have started a peace
process aimed at finding a negotiated end to the 5-decade-old
conflict. At the start of talks, rebels called for foreign oil
and mining interests to leave the country.