* Regional environment body tells railway to stop night
* Fenoco rail line is operating normally - sources
* Fenoco, government to meet over curb on Thursday - source
By Jack Kimball
BOGOTA, Dec 19 Colombia's top coal railway,
Fenoco, is still operating normally despite a ban on night
trains by a regional environmental authority, and the company
will meet with government officials to look for a solution,
sources said on Wednesday.
The Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cesar, which oversees
environmental issues and whose decisions are binding, ordered
Fenoco to stop transport in areas where it passed less than 100
meters from communities between the hours of 2230 and 0430 so
residents' sleep would not be disturbed.
Fenoco -- whose shareholders include Glencore International
Plc's Prodeco unit, Drummond International
and Goldman Sachs Group Inc's units -- received the
resolution dated Dec. 10 on Tuesday, sources said.
Sources close to the companies said Fenoco was still moving
coal by night as well as by day and that the company would meet
with government officials including the National Environmental
Licensing Authority, known as ANLA, on Thursday.
Under Colombia's system, ANLA can overturn the resolution.
Kaleb Villalobos, director general of the regional
environmental authority in Cesar province, known as CORPOCESAR,
said Fenoco should have already abided by the decree.
The body is sending personnel to the area to monitor if
Fenoco is still moving coal at night, he told Reuters.
It is not yet clear if Fenoco will be subject to fines or
penalties if it is continuing to run the trains at night.
Fenoco, which moves trains around the clock, did not
immediately respond to request for comment.
Fenoco's shareholders are among the biggest coal exporters
in Colombia, and the railway was hit this year by a five-week
labor strike, which shut off more than half of shipments from
the world's No. 4 coal exporter.
Daily coal supply to ports served by Fenoco is up to 160,000
tonnes and the railroad has an annual capacity of about 42
million tonnes, according to the company.
In July and August, workers went on strike for five weeks
over pay and working conditions, and the companies have been
working hard since to make up shipments.
The Andean country's mining sector has suffered this year
from labor strikes, delays in environment permits and a rise in
guerrilla attacks against installations.
More than a decade of U.S.-backed strikes against leftist
rebels and drug lords have attracted billions of dollars in
investment mainly into the oil and mining sectors, whose
production have hit historic highs in the last few years.
The flood of foreign investors into Colombia has presented
the government with a new host of challenges including
institutional strains and growing demands from environmental and