BOGOTA Nov 20 Colombia will produce less coal
than planned in 2012, with output dropping around 2 percent from
its goal after labor unrest in the top-producing province halted
operations earlier this year, the government's mining
information system said.
A five-week strike at Colombia's main coal railway and a
three-month walkout at Glencore International Plc unit
Prodeco's La Jagua mine slashed coal production in the third
quarter, causing limited force majeure by two of the country's
Coal production fell 8 percent in the third quarter to 21
million tonnes from a year earlier due to the strikes in Cesar
province, the mining regulator said earlier this month.
Production for 2012 could reach about 90 million tonnes if
fourth-quarter levels are the same as a year earlier, Colombia's
mining information system, which is part of the mining and
energy planning department, said in an analysis of third-quarter
production published on Tuesday.
"If we reach the average level of production of the first
two quarters, output may arrive at 91 million tonnes, which is
below the budgeted projections," the agency said.
In October, the government lowered its output goal to 93
million tonnes for 2012 from a previous target of 97 million
tonnes after the walkouts.
But output this year will still be higher than last year's
production of 85.8 million tonnes.
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.
Apart from striking workers, the mining industry has also
faced increased attacks by Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) rebels this year despite Bogota's sending
thousands of additional troops.
The sector is hoping for a reprieve from rebel assaults
after the Marxist guerrillas called a two-month unilateral
ceasefire on Monday as delicate peace talks began in Cuba to try
to end a half-century of war.