* China eyes $2.7 bln coal railway project - Santos
* Thermal coal exports to Asia increase
BOGOTA Oct 23 Colombian President Juan Manuel
Santos said on Saturday that China and Brazil were eyeing
investments in the Andean nation's coal infrastructure to gain
more access to the material.
Colombia, the world's No. 5 coal exporter, has seen a
five-fold increase in foreign investment, especially in oil and
mining, since 2002 due to the country's U.S.-backed offensive
that pushed leftist rebels to remote jungle hide-outs.
"(China's Development Bank and China Railways (0390.HK)
(601390.SS)) gave me a list of where they want to invest. They
want to invest in a 250-kilometer (155-mile) railway uniting
the Pacific and the Atlantic. The cost of that would be $2.7
billion, and also in the Carare railway," Santos said.
"The Brazilians have told me they want to make not only a
railway but also a port in Carare because they're very
interested in our metallurgical coal ... the Chinese are also
interested in our metallurgical coal," he said in a statement.
Metallurgical coal is used in steel production.
Colombia is looking at doubling output of high-quality coal
over the next nine years, although infrastructure issues are
still hobbling the sector, coal industry officials said.
The Carare railway project would link central producers of
metallurgical coal with coastal ports.
Colombian thermal coal exports to Asia have increased this
year, particularly to China, due to a demand slump from Europe,
Colombia's major market. Colombia has shipped nearly 2.7
million tonnes to China this year, up from 14 tonnes in 2009,
Chinese trade data showed. Thermal coal is used mainly by
The coal market closely monitors China's huge external
demand for the material.
Colombia's major coal producers ship the material from
their own ports on the Atlantic coast. Metallurgical coal is
mainly in the center of the nation, and analysts say that lack
of access to rail and ports is hindering exports.
Coal production is dominated by big thermal producers with
their own port and rail facilities like Glencore, Drummond and
Cerrejon, a joint venture owned by BHP Billiton (BLT.L), Anglo
American (AAL.L) and Xstrata XTA.L.
(Reporting by Jack Kimball; Editing by Peter Cooney)