BOGOTA, July 23 Workers at the Colombian
operations of U.S. coal miner Drummond went on strike
at 6 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Tuesday, a union leader told Reuters,
action that could cut coal output from the world's No. 4
exporter by about a third.
Drummond, which has two mines and a port in Colombia, and
the Sintramienergetica union, which represents about half of
Drummond's roughly 10,000 workers, have been in negotiations for
weeks over pay, and job cuts for port workers due to begin in
"The news is that from 1800 hours we are on strike. It is
unlimited. Unfortunately the company wouldn't budge. It's a
pity," said Edgar Munoz, vice-president of Sintramienergetica.
Drummond produced 26 million tonnes of coal, or almost
one-third of the country's total output in 2012.
Although the seaborne coal market is currently well
supplied, a strike, if prolonged, combined with expected
increased demand from purchasers ahead of winter, could puncture
that surplus and push up coal prices in Europe, where much of
Colombia's supply is consumed.
Labor Minister Rafael Pardo Rueda joined last-ditch talks on
Monday and Tuesday, underscoring the high stakes of a strike for
the government. A month-long stoppage at rival miner Cerrejon in
February was one factor behind slower growth in the first three
months of the year.
Coal is one of Colombia's biggest exports.